It's borderline baffling to think that one year ago barely anyone outside of College Station, Texas, knew the name Johnny Manziel. Twelve months later, there may not be a more polarizing figure in all of sports—college or professional.
By now, the practitioners of banality and bloviation have inundated us all with his story to the point we could each write a novella or short film titled "Our Year With Johnny."
The inciting incident (if we're going into film-speak) was last college football season. It was Manziel beating Jameill Showers in camp, then embarking on a barnstorming takeover of the pigskin consciousness. Johnny Football was created in Tyler, Texas, but that on-field legacy was cemented in Tuscaloosa, with a defeat of top-ranked and eventual national champion Alabama.
The 2012 season ended with Manziel creating a superpower at Texas A&M, winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and sending another twist of the knife into Bob Stoops' January legacy. While Manziel was silent—Texas A&M policy is that freshmen student-athletes do not speak to the media—his play created an instant legend. Overnight he had become the most famous face in college football, the perfect kid with the perfect game and the perfect nickname.
We're here to talk about the second act—when the silence stopped. While those who knew Manziel's story knew he wasn't the picture-perfect choir boy—there was the, you know, whole getting arrested thing—these past seven or so months have been a whirlwind romp into Johnny Football becoming Johnny Tabloid.
Beginning almost from the second the clock struck zero against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, there has been a never-ending string of "breaking" news about Manziel's whereabouts and activities. There was the parking ticket incident. There was "dehydration." There were autographs and alleged payments. And then denials. Followed by the suspension.
We're here to cover it all.
I'm not here to moralize. There was no budget afforded to this column for a soap box. This is merely a recap, an examination of these tumultuous months, with more contextualization than op-ed stylings.
Because whether anyone likes it or loathes it, Johnny Manziel will get to write his third act. He'll suit up for Texas A&M during the 2013 college football season, lead the sixth-ranked team in the country, and we'll all be watching to see how the weight of this 12-month run has come down on a 20-year-old kid.
With that in mind, let's go in-depth on Johnny Manziel's offseason, as the Aggies prepare for their opener against Rice on Saturday.