How Public Perception on Johnny Manziel Has Taken a Sour Turn

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIISeptember 6, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - AUGUST 31:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies works out on the field before the start of the game against the Rice Owls at Kyle Field on August 31, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Everybody has an opinion on Johnny Manziel.

For the entire 2013 offseason, the reputation of Johnny Football was shaped daily with every new TMZ report, cash-flashing Instagram post, autograph scandal or in-depth ESPN The Magazine non-fiction novella by Wright Thompson.

All the while, the common thought remained the same: "Just let Johnny get back to playing football, then everything will go back to normal again."

Wrong.

The season came and the storm that follows Manziel only grew more intense.

Now fun time is over for Manziel and in the eyes of the masses, his innocent and immature kid defense has expired.

After sitting out the first half of his first 2013 game against Rice, Manziel entered and it appeared as though all was right with the world. The redshirt sophomore replicated the type of play that won him the Heisman Trophy last season.

Then after a touchdown, he flashed a finger-rubbing, "show me the money" celebration once, then again.

Later in the game, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after talking trash to a Rice defender.

After the flag he walked right past his head coach Kevin Sumlin as Sumlin reproached him for drawing the stupid penalty flag. Manziel was then promptly yanked from the game, not to return.

Sumlin later came out and defended Manziel, saying that he wasn't ignoring him, as reported by Sam Kahn Jr. of ESPN.

However, it was too little too late—the damage was already done.

Former Pro Bowl linebacker and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Brian Urlacher said on Fox Football Daily that Manziel "acted like a punk" against Rice and that teams will be coming after him all year.

Legendary Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer chimed in too.

The three-time national title-winning coach told Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio that he wanted to "jerk his facemask" for the way he disrespected Sumlin:

I was certainly disappointed in his actions...For him to react the way in front of coach Sumlin the way he did...for him to act so arrogant and so above in his approach, I wanted to jerk his facemask...That's exactly what Woody Hayes would have done and Coach (Bear) Bryant.

I stop and think about where his core value system comes from, if he has a core value system. This young man needs a damn hell of a lot of development.

Of course, Switzer is as old-school as coaches come. However, even a more new-school product, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, said about Manziel, "If you're going to act like a turd, it's going to come back to you," while being interviewed on CNBC.

Recently, NFL scouts have been increasingly critical of Manziel, telling Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman that he is the "Terrell Owens of college football," among other unkind distinctions:

As if being accused of acting like a "turd" and a "punk" and needing "development," wasn't enough, Manziel's public perception hit rock bottom Friday when David Dennis of The Guardian tabbed him as the "Miley Cyrus of college football."

No, that isn't a complement. 

The testimonies from Dennis, Brady, Switzer and Urlacher have all come within a matter of days, all long after Manziel's offseason that ebbed and flowed for months on end.

Manziel had been more or less forgiven for the Manning Passing Academy incident, the disparaging tweet about his college town and much more. This was thanks to the long-awaited arrival of the football season that was supposed to put him back in his place as a normal but extraordinarily talented student-athlete.

But once Manziel brought his antics onto the football field, everything changed.

Fans had been giving Manziel second, third and fourth chances for everything he had done over the offseason.

Then Manziel took the field and threw those chances back in the face of the public; he became a "punk" and a "turd."

He will likely just chalk this up to youth, as he did at the SEC Media days—just Johnny being Johnny, a college kid doing what college kids do.

But as Johnny continues to be Johnny, his image will only darken.

So by the time Wright Thompson or another writer pens an all-access feature on him, Manziel will have made the full transition from the misunderstood kid to the black hat-wearing antagonist. 

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