There's no question Johnny Manziel is the most controversial figure in college sports today, but winning will cure all the problems surrounding the Texas A&M Aggies and their star quarterback.
Manziel's life has been broadcast in just about every way possible following a 2012 season that saw him win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman quarterback, as well as accomplish a feat no other team did last year: beat the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Both of those factors have led to Manziel becoming a national sensation, however problems have arisen as a result of this newfound fame.
An in-depth piece by ESPN The Magazine writer Wright Thompson made public several issues Manziel has, including how worried his parents are that he may be out of control in his personal life.
Following that, Manziel was suspended for the first half of the Aggies' season opener against the Rice Owls after being involved in what was considered an inadvertent rules violation by the NCAA following an autograph signing the signal-caller did.
Here are the specifics of the violation, although Manziel didn't get a more lengthy suspension because, according to the NCAA, there is no evidence he took money for his autographs, per ESPN.com news services:
The NCAA and A&M agreed on the one-half suspension because Manziel violated NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199, an NCAA representative confirmed. The rule says student-athletes cannot permit their names or likenesses to be used for commercial purposes, including to advertise, recommend or promote sales of commercial products, or accept payment for the use of their names or likenesses.
"If additional information comes to light, the NCAA will review and consider if further action is appropriate," the NCAA said in the joint statement. "NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for items they sign, and based on information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case."
During his first game of the season, Manziel led Texas A&M to a 52-31 win over the Owls in a game that saw the Heisman winner taunt by autographing the air. His day ended early when he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pointing to the scoreboard in the face of Rice defenders.
After getting ripped into by head coach Kevin Sumlin on the sidelines, it was clear Manziel hadn't learned any lessons from his offseason troubles and it continued to make him an unlikeable character in many circles—Texas A&M's included.
Adding to the attention of Manziel's situation in regards to being exonerated for accepting money for his autographs, Johnny Football recently graced the cover of Time magazine in a cover story that suggested it's time to pay college athletes.
Here's a look at the cover, per the Time.com Twitter feed:
Granted, Manziel has given Aggies fans a ton of headaches recently—not the least of which has been dealt to Sumlin—but he still stands as one of the best quarterbacks in the college game today. That certainly makes it easier to deal with the headaches in and of itself.
Of all the opponents Alabama faces this year in its quest for a three-peat, experts all but crowned the Aggies with the best chance to beat the Crimson Tide before the season began. The only reason that still has a shred of credibility is because of Manziel.
As is the case in all sports, winning is always the cure for a player's woes, whether on the field or off it. For Manziel, he hasn't given us any reason to dislike his play on the field, but every reason to dislike him off the field.
How quickly that can change, though...at least in respect to focusing on him as the player rather than the person.
Should he compete at a high level once again this season and lead the Aggies to what everyone is expecting to be a great season, Johnny Football's name will be a lot cleaner than it is now in the minds of most college football fans.
Should Manziel and the Aggies run the table and win a national title, Johnny Football would become a god. Even just sniffing the title game and finishing as a runner-up would go a long way in helping Manziel's image despite the negative things surrounding him.
The tabloid-addicted society we live in today will never fully allow Manziel's problems to be ignored, but he can help himself by putting them on the back burner.
As opposed to his off-the-field issues being speculated as his reason for being held back, they will simply be looked at as a side note and not a big chunk of the story. After all, one season of success isn't enough to downplay his problems, but two seasons and merely a shot at a national title will mostly erase them.
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