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Monday, July 15, 2013
Maisel: Manziel's spotlight unprecedented

By Edward Aschoff


Whatever Johnny Manziel does -- or doesn't do -- is national news. From an extravagant off-field lifestyle to switching out his on-campus classes for online courses, Manziel just can't get away from the spotlight.

That became painfully evident once again over the weekend when Texas A&M's reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback's name was splashed all over the Internet after he left the 2013 Manning Passing Academy early. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Manziel, who was serving as a college coach/counselor, missed assigned meetings and practice sessions due to illness.

That just sounds like bad luck, but what really grabbed everyone's attention were the early Internet reports stating that Manziel was sent home early by Archie Manning after "partying" the night before meetings and practice.

Camp officials were adamant that Manziel wasn't sent home for partying and a spokesman released this statement:
"Johnny Manziel did participate in some activities in the 2013 Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach. After missing and being late for practice assignments, Johnny explained that he had been feeling ill. Consequently, we agreed that it was in everyone's best interest for him to go home a day early."

Paul Manziel told The Dallas Morning News his son was recovering from dehydration.

Just another day in the life of Johnny Football. A skip on the sidewalk could shut Twitter's servers down.

So that begs the question: Is Manziel college football's biggest celebrity ever?

Fellow colleague Ivan Maisel dives right into that question and explores how his off-field life has made him almost bigger than the sport during his time in College Station:
By one measure -- sheer numbers -- Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel steps onto the podium Wednesday morning at SEC Media Days as the biggest celebrity college football has ever seen. Ever.

He has played one season, beaten one No. 1 Alabama, and won one Heisman Trophy. Yet you can make the case that no college player in the history of the game -- not Red Grange, not Archie Griffin, not Tim Tebow, not anyone -- has bathed in the heat of the American spotlight the way that Manziel has.

It has nothing to do with his 5,116 yards of total offense last season, or the 47 touchdowns for which he ran or threw. Not those numbers. It's the approximately 378,000 followers that Manziel has on Twitter. That is more than Texas A&M University, Texas A&M football, Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin and the Southeastern Conference -- combined.

A marriage of personality and technology, of nickname and bandwidth, of style and characters -- 140 of them -- has made Manziel unlike any player who has come before.

To read more of Maisel's piece, click here.