Johnny Manziel has shown no on-the-field rust this season, putting to rest fears that an offseason rife with partying and controversy might take a toll on his production. He's once again playing like a Heisman Trophy finalist, and his game might be even better than it was last year.
The same cannot be said about his public image.
A consumer research service called E-Score conducted a survey on Johnny Football's popularity, and his regression over the past eight months—roughly since the Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma—has been astounding. Here's a look at some of its results:
E-Score further explains the table (and its research method) by saying:
In a survey completed this week, only 49 percent of respondents indicated they found Manziel appealing, significantly lower than the 87 percent average for the 1,400 athletes tracked. Data from a survey conducted in January 2013, just after Manziel’s Heisman win, shows 97 percent of respondents found him appealing. While Manziel suffered a decrease in appeal of 50 percent during the past 8 months, the survey also showed his awareness went up 67 percent during the same time period.
When asked to choose from a list of attributes describing Manziel, respondents selected rude, 27 percent; overexposed, 43 percent; and insincere, 19 percent. These numbers increased dramatically from the prior survey, which showed the number of respondents selecting those attributes as being significantly lower (rude, 2 percent; overexposed, 5 percent; insincere, 5 percent).
It's not hard to figure why a random sample of Americans would feel this way. In the time between January and September, Manziel has found his image constantly plastered in the news—and it's rarely had to do with actual football.
Between getting sent home from the Manning Passing Academy (with or without a hangover), being probed by the NCAA for allegedly selling his autograph and getting benched for taunting opponents in a Week 1 win over Rice, Manziel has done little to endear himself to the casual-watching fan.
Dig a little deeper, and you might find a small shred of (relative) innocence or a speck of surprising sincerity.
But this survey doesn't (nor does it intend to) account for people who care enough to dig deeper. It's a census of how the general public feels about Manziel; and so far as the general public is concerned, what it hears on the news is the unabashed truth.
Johnny Football has an image problem.