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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Let Johnny Manziel be himself

By ESPN.com staff



There is a vocal contingent of college football fans, and an even louder collection of media pundits, sports moralists and general know-it-alls, who cannot wait for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel to grow the hell up.

You've probably heard these people recently, or at least read some of their comments, because frankly they're not shy about sharing their opinions. It seems everyone feels duty bound of late to weigh in on the increasingly troubling antics of Johnny Football. Barry Switzer wants to jerk him around by his face mask. Matt Millen wants to put a size-13 boot up his rear end. Tom Brady thinks Manziel is acting like a "turd." Brian Urlacher said he's acting like a punk. Even Lou Holtz said he'd like to grab Manziel by the throat and straighten him out.

Whatever happened between Manziel and an autograph broker, and the investigation that got him suspended by Texas A&M for half a game against Rice, might be in the past, but plenty of people are still clamoring to see some sign of remorse from the Heisman winner. Or, at the very least, a dose of humility. They want proper reverence paid to the game. They want to see maturity and class. Because what we've seen from Manziel so far this season -- pretending to sign autographs after touchdown throws, pointing to the scoreboard, the post-tackle peacocking, the cash money hand gesture -- is currently giving them a serious case of the vapors. It's just not honorable.

If, in the most anticipated college football game of the year, Manziel leads the Aggies to an upset victory over the Crimson Tide, and he once again prances around the field trolling his haters, a lot of people are going to need to seek out the nearest fainting couch, post haste. Or, adjusting accordingly for rage, find a set of restraints and stronger blood pressure medication.

I am not one of those people.

In fact, if you're looking for life lessons, or smug judgment, please look elsewhere.

In anticipation of this week's epic showdown with Alabama, I've realized I want the opposite from Manziel. I want him to fully embrace his heel persona.

To read more of Kevin Van Valkenburg's story, click here.