Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel lifted his self-imposed media embargo Saturday night, speaking out in a wide-ranging press conference after the Aggies' 49-42 loss to Alabama at Kyle Field.
Just one request: no autograph talk.
Flanked by school representatives, Manziel politely requested that reporters refrain from asking him questions about whether he took money in exchange for autographs before a spokesman put it in even blunter terms, according to ESPN's Joe Schad:
Johnny Manziel says this isn't the time to speak to a question about if he sold autographs. A&M spokesman threatens to "end this quickly."— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) September 15, 2013
At the behest of his attorney and his family, Manziel was advised not to speak to the media before Saturday's contest. He had spoken to the media following last week's win over Sam Houston State. However, the intense national attention paid to a game against top-ranked Alabama led his advisers to put up a wall between Manziel and the media.
But with the biggest game of the season out of the way, the always-talkative Johnny Football seemed relieved to have his (self-imposed) gag order removed.
The session saw Manziel strike a surprisingly jovial tone, praising his teammates and indicating the Aggies weren't out of the national title hunt yet. TexasAgs.com was at the press conference, where Manziel downplayed what the loss meant to the team's long-term prospects:
Manziel: For us, this isn't the end of our season. This isn't the Super Bowl. Our season isn't over...this is college football.— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) September 15, 2013
Manziel: We just have to continue to get better and know that teams have lost games before and have still gone on to [win it all].— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) September 15, 2013
One such team was the 2012 Crimson Tide. Nick Saban's squad famously lost to Manziel and the Aggies last season in Tuscaloosa before getting some luck and parlaying an SEC championship into a drubbing of Notre Dame in the national title game.
With two straight BCS championships, Manziel actually pointed the finger in Alabama's direction when asked about the pressure coming into Saturday's showdown, per Cecil Hunt of the Tuscaloosa News:
Manziel: "The pressure was all on Alabama, trying to three-peat...we just wanted to go out and play our hearts out."— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) September 15, 2013
Though the Crimson Tide didn't crumble under any supposed pressure for the second straight season, it wasn't without effort from Manziel. The sophomore quarterback was nothing short of outstanding, breaking his own school passing record with 464 yards and five touchdowns and adding another 98 yards on the ground.
Manziel, whose mechanics have often been critiqued by scouts, took special time to tout the work he put in this offseason to improve as an under-center passer:
Manziel: I worked this offseason to be a better passer and better in the pocket. You can look at today and say that that happened.— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) September 15, 2013
Not that Manziel thought he did it all alone.
Sophomore receiver Mike Evans broke a school record of his own, catching seven balls for 279 yards and a touchdown. Evans broke the receiving record previously held by Dude McLean in 1965. And for Manziel's money, there is no better wideout to have in all of college football:
Johnny Manziel: "In my eyes, Mike Evans is the best receiver in college football."— Aggie Sports (@Aggie_Sports) September 15, 2013
That said, the contest wasn't all positive for the Texas A&M offense.
Manziel also threw two critical interceptions, arguably causing a 14-point swing in the game. He tossed his first pick on 2nd-and-goal at the Alabama 4-yard line in the first half, and another at the beginning of the second half, which Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri returned for a touchdown.
The sixth-ranked Aggies will stay in College Station for a nationally televised contest against SMU next week.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: