Johnny Manziel is just a young man trying to deal with the fame that comes with a Heisman Trophy and the expectations that come with an alter ego as polarizing as Johnny Football.
ESPN's Wright Thompson delivers a remarkable in-depth look at the life of the most well-known collegiate athlete at the moment—posted on ESPN.com and featured in the Aug. 19 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
Of course, being a 20-year-old is never easy, but it's especially hard when every action, tweet and purchase is scrutinized by anyone with a camera or Twitter feed.
There are so many fantastic stories in the article, but the most telling quote comes from Manziel's father, Paul Manziel, who sums up the plight of his son perfectly. Thompson writes, "He's a boy. As his dad says, 'He ate Skittles, drank beer and won the Heisman.' "
The senior writer was on ESPN's SportsCenter to discuss the article and the time he spent with the Manziels:
The story picks up four days after the now-famous tweet Manziel posted and subsequently deleted, stating, "@JManziel2: Bullshit like tonight is a reason why I can't wait to leave college station...whenever it may be."
While also deleted, the next tweet offered a far more reserved explanation of what Manziel could have meant with the blast. "Don't ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes." Both tweets are via ESPN's Sam Khan Jr.
Essentially, that is what Thompson has done with his captivating piece: He's introduced us to a Manziel most never get to see, giving fans a pair of his shoes that may seem far too tight for most.
There is the young star who wants to make sure he signs every last piece of paraphernalia for fans, no matter how much of a pain it might be.
There is also the kid who cannot wait to beat his dad on the golf course and cannot deal with the frustration when a golf ball fails to abide by his commands like a football would.
By the end, you really get the picture of a kid who continues to mature and who is forced to savor the rare moments when it's just him and his family, the stares of a college-football-mad world blocked for that one special steak dinner.
Thompson touches upon this a bit in the video: What would life be like if you were under media scrutiny at 20? In fact, take media scrutiny out of the equation, and college life still seems like a beautiful blur when mistakes came often but, hopefully, never derailed careers—collegiate or otherwise.
Such is life as a Heisman winner in 2013. It's an obvious struggle that various talented athletes will treat in a different manner.
For the Texas A&M quarterback, he is still trying to find his way, much as we all were at 20.
While some question whether the QB is Johnny Manziel or Johnny Football, Thompson seems to offer that the kid is both and is merely struggling to make amends with that fact.
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