Don’t go downtown. Don’t go to dinner. Don’t spend $75 on that wristband that doesn’t include top-shelf goodness and does include obscenely long lines. Don’t even leave your house. And if you do, ensure the viewing options are in order well in advance.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the closest thing to a video game cheat code that we have in real life. Ensure you're by a television by 8:00 p.m. EST, a few hours before the ball will begin to work its way downward, and enjoy the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
It’s not just a special night and showcase—although it has the makings to be that and more—but it will also likely serve as Manziel’s final game at the college ranks.
No surprise but Manziel and Evans will be playing final college games tomorrow, multiple sources tell me. #TAMUvsDUKE— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) December 30, 2013
Maybe this isn’t it. Maybe Johnny Manziel will grab hold of the microphone following a Chick-fil-A Bowl win, freshly fallen confetti glued to his face and parachuting cows falling from the sky, and he’ll bellow out, “I love Texas A&M, and I can’t wait to do it again next season!”
We’ll cheer, trying not to spill on any of the nice furniture or that new carpet that was just put in, and we’ll embrace the prospects of more Johnny Football.
Heck, maybe we’ll get two more years of Manziel doing absurd things to college defenses, making future NFL stars and SEC defenders look helpless in their efforts to corral him.
Maybe he’ll choose to exhaust his eligibility that already feels exhausted in its short lifespan. Maybe, just maybe, Manziel will hang around a while longer, choosing to entertain the masses without getting paid for one (or possibly two) more seasons.
The door isn’t completely shut on this scenario, one most Texas A&M fans would hug and never let go. In all likelihood, however, the Chick-fil-A Bowl will serve as Manziel’s final college showcase. He will then take his talents—and goodness the plural feels necessary here—to the NFL.
Before we enter an offseason jam-packed with debate over his NFL worth at the position he plays—debate that will be tired before it even begins—there’s still a showcase against a Duke team that many will refuse to take seriously.
Not Manziel, though. It will be up to him to push the offense as he had all year, ensuring that A&M’s point total is enough for a defense that has, well, had its issues all season.
And surely, his teammates expect him to bounce back from two un-Manziel-like performances in losses to LSU and Missouri.
"He's such a competitor," senior wideout Travis Labhart told reporters, via Sports Network. "He's our team leader, and he's always going to take losses tough. A lot of the times, he takes a loss tough because he thinks it's on him. He'll bounce back like he has all year."
Texas A&M can score. Duke can certainly score as well. What better to celebrate the end of the year by taking a scoreboard and lighting it on fire?
The term “must see” is often overused, but it's certainly warranted here. We tend to lean on this phrase in sports for just about every athlete that we have deemed worth. In truth, however, few athletes require your utmost attention always.
For Manziel, it applies. It always applies, but it feels slightly more important knowing this is it. What makes Manziel “must see,” however, is you never quite know what you’re going to see.
From the exceptional, to the insane, to the plays that don’t work out but are still spectacular in failure, Manziel provides a bit of everything on nearly every snap.
And in 2013, he again delivered quality weekly entertainment yet again.
Like his jump ball against Alabama earlier in the year in a losing effort, a play so off-script that it had to be planned. It wasn’t, of course, and it was laced with luck, but there was something believable about this unbelievable moment. Mainly because who was involved.
Or his double spin move against Mississippi State that resulted in a 26-yard completion once every button on the controller had been pressed.
Were both spin moves necessary? I’m sorry, are you turning away free spin moves? Of course, they were necessary.
These are just a handful of the highlights that Manziel delivered in a small window, but the full Manziel experience comes by watching the entire 60 minutes.
It’s his fidgety lower body settling in on a blueprint for that particular play, deciding whether to take off or wait just long enough for his receiver to get open. It’s his underrated and often overlooked accuracy with his passes, dropping the ball in a bucket at a regular clip. And yes, it’s even the bad that surfaces every now and then—the occasional sack from prolonged scrambling or the interception from overconfidence.
It all comes together in one strangely wrapped package, the gift of all gifts. Unfortunately, for all of us, the era is approaching darkness.
You don’t need to be told to watch the most exciting player in the sport on one of the most exciting nights of the year, a time where we can throw out the calendars, hit the “refresh” button and start over.
In the instance of Manziel, we don’t want to start over. We don't want it to stop. We want more.
Unless something drastically changes, however, we won’t get it. New Year’s Eve will serve as our final college serving of Johnny Football, which means you best shuffle your plans accordingly and enjoy every last second.