Why Johnny Manziel Had the Craziest Offseason in College Football History

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 31, 2013

Has any 20-year-old college student had this kind of offseason?

Love him or hate him, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has had an offseason that would make Brody Jenner or Paris Hilton take notice.

After becoming the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and setting the Cotton Bowl record with 516 total yards in a 41-13 win over Oklahoma, Manziel embarked on a whirlwind tour around the country.

That tour drew the ire of critics who claim that Manziel's new-found celebrity status is taking precedence over his role as the Aggies quarterback.

His college football eligibility could now also be in question after he may have been paid for signing hundreds of autographs in January, reports Darren Rovell and Justine Gubar of ESPN

Is that fair? Well, you be the judge as we take a look back at the wildest offseason in college football history.

The Cotton Bowl Celebration

The Manziel world tour kicked off in the most "Johnny Football" way ever—with a trip to the casino.

He and two friends won big at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., an 18-and-over-establishment, in the hours following the win over the Sooners. 

Manziel posted a picture of him and two friends showing off their winnings on Instagram, but later took the photo down. 

Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money...KEEP HATING!

— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) January 6, 2013

He wasn't done, though.

The night after winning big in Thackerville, Manziel was spotted by TMZ popping bottles of champagne in a Dallas-area club. 

In Texas, that's not illegal since the 20-year-old Manziel's parents were present at the club. 

The Cotton Bowl celebration was the first in a series of incidents in which Manziel publicly let loose, which raised the question: "How much fun is too much fun?"

For most college students, that would have been enough fun for a few months. For Manziel, it was just one weekend.

Just How Accurate Is Manziel?

Back in College Station in January, Manziel had a little fun with the Dude Perfect crew, starring in an epic trick-shot video that features, among other things, tossing a football from the top of Kyle Field into a basketball hoop. The video is simply amazing.

From hitting shots on a moving target inside the indoor facility to football-modified skeet shooting, Manziel put on a show in the feature.

Does it matter in the grand scheme of things that Manziel can hit all kinds of trick shots from all over Kyle Field? Probably not.

But it couldn't hurt.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

During a two-and-a-half week span, the city of New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl and its annual Mardi Gras celebration.

As you would imagine, Manziel was there for the long haul.

In the lead-up to the Super Bowl, Manziel party-hopped with the stars. He hung out with Hollywood celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, New England Patriots tight end and known partier Rob Gronkowski, and the guys from Duck Dynasty

It was at the Super Bowl where Manziel transformed from college football superstar to full-fledged celebrity. Good for him, but good for the Aggies?

We'll see.

He stuck around the Big Easy for Mardi Gras, where he was joined by several friends looking to team up with him on Bourbon Street.

Is he the first college football player to hang out in New Orleans during Mardi Gras? Nope. But he was the most famous, and he made his trip to the Big Easy count in a big way.

We're Talking About CLASSES

Former NBA star Allen Iverson would have the perfect response to February's controversy about Manziel taking a full load of online classes. 

"We're talking about classes. CLASSES?"

 Manziel took a tremendous amount of heat for avoiding the College Station campus and those lowly "regular students" by taking four online classes during spring semester.

Really? This is what constitutes a controversy these days?

There's a tremendous benefit to being able to work at your own pace at home or wherever you wish. It's not a case of Manziel being too big for College Station. It's a matter of him taking advantage of the classes A&M offers and the technology we have as a society. Sure, using "distractions" as an excuse was a bit much, but he shouldn't be criticized for doing something that thousands of other college students do all the time.

Taking classes anywhere in the country through the power of the Internet? Good for you, sir.

Classes Don't Get in the Way of Fun, Though

Manziel took in a Drake concert in Toronto in March and called it the highlight of his offseason up to that point in an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas/Fort Worth, according to Complex.com:

"Probably meeting Drake. I went to Toronto before I went to Cabo for spring break and got to hang out with him and all of his crew and kind of watch how the music was made."

If it topped Cabo San Lucas, that's saying quite a bit. Because Cabo looked like it was rather enjoyable for 'ole John Pigskin as well.

It may come as a shock, but college kids like to party on spring break. Manziel is no different. Several images surfaced from his journey across the border, including many that featured bikini-clad coeds enjoying his company. 

Something tells me it's not too difficult for "Johnny Football" to find success off the field on spring break. Just a hunch.

Hoop Dreams

He is a superstar on the gridiron, but it became abundantly clear this offseason that Manziel has an affinity for basketball.

He sat courtside on consecutive nights in December at NBA games, broke his social media silence in the spring with a picture of him and Miami Heat forward LeBron James in San Antonio in March and attended Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Heat in Miami in June. 

Courtside seats, rubbing elbows with NBA stars in locker rooms and tickets to the biggest sporting events in America?

Ahh, to be a Heisman winner...

If You Build It, He Will Come

It isn't just basketball that grabs Manziel's attention. He played shortstop in high school and made a return to the diamond this spring on two occasions, throwing out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game in April and again for the San Diego Padres in May.

The results were mixed.

His pitch in Arlington, Texas, was high and tight, and it likely would have pegged a right-handed hitter in the head.

So how did he make up for the near-wild pitch in San Diego? In a way only "Johnny Football" can.

Instead of a standard pitch, Manziel re-enacted the scramble, fumble, touchdown pass from the first quarter of A&M's win over Alabama. Alabama fans probably didn't appreciate it, but he wasn't done in SoCal.

He also took batting practice and nearly went yard, smacking a line drive off the left-field wall.

Oh Yeah, There's That Whole Football Thing to Work on, Too

It wasn't all fun and games in San Diego; Manziel was there to work as well.

The week-long trip was centered around work with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. It was Manziel's second trip to work with Whitfield, and this time, the training included some innovative techniques.

Manziel posted a picture of himself working out in the ocean with Whitfield in an attempt to strengthen his legs and work on his balance against the resistance generated by the waves. 

When they were finished with work in the ocean, the two moved back to dry land, where Manziel worked on completing passes on solid ground.

There was a catch, though...he was blindfolded. 

No problem. All he did was complete 93 percent (25-of-27) of his passes.

Much like the trick-shot video, it's hard to say how much this helps his game...but it won't hurt.

The Danger of Social Media

We've all had that moment when we throw our hands up in the air and say "I'm done." Manziel's moment just so happened to take place on Twitter, where 460,000+ of his closest friends follow him on a minute-by-minute basis.

"[Expletive] like tonight is a reason why I can't wait to leave College Station...whenever it may be," Manziel tweeted (and deleted) on June 16.

His apology (which was also deleted) didn't exactly do a lot to quell the firestorm generated by that tweet.

"Don't ever forget that I love A&M with all my heart, but please, please walk a day in my shoes."

His critics called him spoiled, and his defenders said it was no big deal. In the end, it was revealed that the anger stemmed from a parking ticket. It didn't matter, though. It was the moment when battle lines were drawn between Manziel's critics and defenders.

There was no turning back at that point.

The Manning Passing Academy Incident

Being asked to leave the Manning Passing Academy after missing meetings is concerning. Manziel claims that he overslept after forgetting to charge his cell phone and set his alarm on the morning of July 13 in Thibodaux, La. 

Whether you believe him or not, it was the buzz of SEC media days the following week. All the talk centered around Manziel and his epic offseason.

“I simply overslept," he said. "There’s nothing more to talk, and the rumors about the other things weren’t really true. I just overslept and missed a meeting. I absolutely lived up to it. There was no excuse for not having my phone charged or having an alarm set."

The specifics of his exit from the camp don't really matter. He was there to be a coach and a mentor, and he didn't live up to his responsibility. He apologized for it, but it should still be concerning for A&M fans.

Nothing to See Here...Just the Red Carpet at the ESPYs

Manziel made the rounds at SEC media days on the morning of July 17, before heading across the country to attend the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.

Oh, nothing to see here. Just the red-carpet treatment, more hobnobbing with athletes, movie stars and musicians. 

Or, as Manziel has likely come to call it, "Wednesday."

Manziel took home the award for Best Male College Athlete from the event, but let's be honest:  It was more about the experience than the award. 

A Visit to the Rivals

The "Summer of Manziel" made one final stop in a rather unlikely place in late July.

Austin, Texas—home of the University of Texas.

It didn't go well.

Manziel was asked to leave a fraternity party, and as everybody should come to expect with celebrities these days, his exit was caught on video and published on YouTube.

Good for Johnny for being true to himself and having a good time, like he said he'd continue to do at SEC media days. But tweets like this in response to those critical of his offseason behavior don't help his cause with his critics.

Last time I checked double digit win columns and championships are what matters.

— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) July 28, 2013

One thing is abundantly clear with Manziel: He doesn't care. He's going to continue to do what he wants to do no matter who disapproves.

Daddy Drama

Wright Thompson wrote an incredibly in-depth piece for ESPN on Manziel's struggle with his new-found fame, and some of the more interesting quotes came from Johnny's father, Paul Manziel.

It could come unraveled. And when it does, it's gonna be bad. Real bad.

It's one night away from the phone ringing, and he's in jail. And you know what he's gonna say? 'It's better than all the pressure I've been under. This is better than that.'

The eye-opening quotes are compounded with the news that both of Manziel's parents believe that this will be his last season in College Station.

The piece by Thompson tied a bow on Manziel's offseason, and it provided a sobering reminder that there's no manual for dealing with seemingly instant fame at 20 years old. 

Money for Autographs 

The latest twist in the Johnny Manziel story was touched on earlier, and it may prove to be the most important development yet. Two sources told ESPN that Manziel agreed to "sign memorabilia in exchange for a five-figure flat fee during his trip to Miami for the Discover BCS National Championship."

If the NCAA finds that Manziel violated NCAA Bylaw, which is accepting money for promoting or advertising the commercial sale of a product or service, his college football future would be in jeopardy. 

If this is proven, Manziel's up-and-down offseason may have just careened off a cliff. 


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