- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is not one to hold back his emotions. He's a very engaging person, both on and off the field, but his actions away from the gridiron can sometimes get him in trouble.
Especially with that blessing and curse known simply as Twitter.
According to a report by the Dallas Morning News, Manziel's Twitter personality (@JManziel2) sparked some controversy over the weekend when the reigning Heisman Trophy winner tweeted, "Bulls--- like tonight is a reason why I can't wait to leave college station...whenever it may be," early Sunday morning.
The tweet was quickly deleted, but Manziel followed up with this:
"Don't ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes."
An A&M spokesman said he didn't expect any sort of statement from Manziel about the tweets.
Although we don't know why Manziel decided to tweet his frustrations out to his 360,000-plus followers, maybe it's time for Manziel, who is juggling being a full-time quarterback and celebrity, to lie low until August rolls around. Maybe he doesn't need to bathe in the limelight as much for a little while.
Despite the courtside seats at NBA games, photos with Hollywood's elite, trips to famous sporting events/venues and on-air appearances, Johnny Football is still a college student. But since he and his crazy legs burst onto the scene last football season, he's become too big for Texas A&M. He has his own brand, and A&M can only hope to contain it.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with Manziel being the big man on campus. There's also nothing wrong with him being a big fish in A&M's little pond, but he has to realize that he's in an age when celebrities are monitored more and more. Everyone has a cellphone and anyone can read your tweets. One's narcissism is more readily available to the public like never before.
While Manziel is part of A&M's university, he has to make himself fit.
Manziel has to decide whether he's Johnny Football or a celebrity first. The thing that makes Manziel so fascinating to watch is that he's created his celebrity image through actual skill. He was relatively unknown before he was arrested last summer and charged with disorderly conduct and having a fake ID. At the time, most people thought he had squandered any hopes of being A&M's starting quarterback.
Five months later, Manziel was a college football rock star and the first freshman to win the Heisman.
Then, he started showing up everywhere. From late-night TV to the Super Bowl, Manziel's face was all over the place. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but you have to be careful.
Tim Tebow didn't even garner this sort of attention, and he spent four years on Florida's campus. Sure, he was the most loved/hated player in the game, but he didn't have the off-field celebrity status Manziel has. He had no Twitter account to spout off on, and most of his vacations consisted of mission trips.
Also, Tebow arrived at Florida with a mountain of hype on his shoulders. He was one of the best high school players around, so he had been dealing with fame long before Manziel did and was properly prepared.
But that's not Manziel's fault. No one, including himself, thought he'd blow up like he did. It was great to watch, but if Manziel isn't careful with this whole celebrity persona, he could tumble in 2013.
A colleague brought up a very interesting point about Manziel: He has to decide whether he's Kanye West or Kim Kardashian. Kanye built his fame on being an amazing artist and producer while also having the bravado to tick people off. Kanye can be a certifiable jerk, but his credibility is never questioned because he's great at his craft: music. He can get away with his antics because when he goes into the studio, he cuts gold. Kim made her fame off much less and has to constantly be in the public eye or else she'll fade into nonexistence.
Manziel has that Kanye vibe about him when it comes to his craft, but he has to continue to cut gold on the field or he'll fade.
Manziel has so much going for him on the football field that his days in College Station are likely dwindling. He just has to make it to August and then through the season.
Maybe it's time for him to focus on the Aggies side of things and scale back his celebrity image. I'm not saying he shouldn't go out and have fun, but he could slow down a bit. If he doesn't want the attention, he can avoid it. He might be the biggest person in College Station, but he can hide if he really wants to.
If Manziel's celebrity stature outweighs football, people will turn on him in a way that I don't think he's ready for. Our society is good at building people up, but it's even better at breaking them down.
17hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough