Roy Exum: Is Johnny About To Crack?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Since this very day just 12 months ago Johnny Manziel has gone from being an obscure and unknown college freshman to sports’ greatest superstar. This time last year the boyish 20-year-old wasn’t even expected to play for Texas A&M – but soon he was named as the winner of college football’s holy grail, The Heisman Trophy. As a matter of fact, so great was the clamor his family actually made his nickname, “Johnny Football,” into a registered trademark.

Manziel came into the intense spotlight last August from tiny Kerrville, Texas (pop. 20,425) and during an outlandish summer was named by ESPN as America’s Top College Athlete. The same ESPN quoted numerous sources Tuesday as saying Manziel, who has already taken anger-management and alcohol counseling, is now being investigated by the NCAA. It is broadly alleged he pocketed a five-figure flat fee for signing hundreds of autographs that now threatens his eligibility and his future as “Johnny Football.” Again, he will not become 21 until his birthday this December.

Throughout the spring and summer there have been repeated signs the much-overwhelmed kid is about to crack. I personally know of no one who could have endured the sudden fame and its obscene pressure that has been heaped upon him, solely because he has been blessed as an athlete. While the last 12 months has been a whirlwind not seen since The Wizard of Oz, his life – in stark reality -- has been a living hell with a barrage of news hounds, delirious admirers, and a thirsty public snapping both pictures and at his ankles each and every day.

The NCAA investigation is very serious and the fact no one is denying the incident occurred is casting a long shadow over not just Johnny but all of college football as well. At least two Las Vegas casinos have erased the line that Texas A&M will win 9.5 games this fall (a bettor picks over or under) and all interviews with Manziel have been cancelled, although he is still practicing with the Aggies and quite mindful that on Sept. 14th his A&M will host defending champion Alabama in College Station.

Since Johnny won the Heisman, along with the Manning Trophy and the Davy O’Brien Awards, he has lived fast—make that “real fast.” The timeline is incredible. In January pictures surfaced with him flashing wads of cash and popping champagne in a casino. He was spied at NBA games with pretty females and crowds gathered everywhere he was seen.

In February he partied hearty at Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the likes of Justin Timberlake. In March he was shown wearing a fake Texas Longhorns tattoo on spring vacation at Cabo San Lucas. In April he threw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game and later in the month watched the Yankees and a UFC brawl on the same day. In May, at a San Diego Padres game, he re-enacted the play that beat Alabama during the regular season just before he threw out another opening-game pitch, this just days before he led a demanding entourage to world-famed Pebble Beach and shot a 79 on the golf course.

In June he famously Tweeted, “(Expletive,) like tonight is the reason I can’t wait to leave College Station”  after he was given a parking ticket and also appeared in a video that promoted country singer Granger Smith’s song, “Silverado Bench Seat.”

July was a banner month. He was shamefully sent home from the Manning passing camp, honored by the ESPYs in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to a bar fight in Texas, was widely photographed at fraternity parties at the University of Texas, and was the banner subject of several revealing front-pages stories, one dealing with his parent’s concern and his counseling sessions.

Three days into August the autograph fiasco broke as Texas A&M began fall practice. The university has since hired the same law firm that represented Auburn when it was alleged Cam Newton’s father had been paid money before Cam won the Heisman and guided the Tigers to the national crown.

While nobody who knows Johnny dares say a word, the NCAA repercussions could be measurable since it was rumored many people in Florida may have witnessed Manziel sign memorabilia when he watched Alabama win the national title at the BCS title game. It was hoped the start of fall football would settle him down, smooth the choppy seas.

But with the NCAA entering the fray, college football observers can only watch the soap opera run its course and there are some who believe he may not play in A&M’s opener on Aug. 31 when the Aggies host Rice on Kyle Field, proving that a tragedy can begin and end in just 12 months, and all of this before “Johnny Football” even turns 21.

royexum@aol.com

Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel

Justification For A Utility Rate Hike

In justification of a proposed utility rate hike the CEO of Cleveland Utilities cited a March issue of a regional magazine that declares Cleveland Utilities rates are 18.7 percent below the national average. This is not a new tactic but a worn out one that gets played over and over again and not only with a utility hike but with property taxes.  According to data from 2008-2012 ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The 15-Year-Old Marine

There are 58,267 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall that today sits majestically in the Constitution Gardens of our nation's capital. It has never been lost on me that 33,103 of those who are named were only 18 years old when they died. But what caught my eye during my morning reading is that one of the names carved in the black granite “Dan Bullock“ was only 15 years old ... (click for more)

Cabela's To Open Fort Oglethorpe Store May 13

Cabela’s announced Monday plans to celebrate the official grand opening of its new Fort Oglethorpe store on Wednesday, May 13, with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a weekend-long celebration featuring giveaways, family activities and more.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Cabela's executives and special guests, will begin at 9:45 a.m. and conclude with ... (click for more)

City Detective Who Was Arrested Twice In 4 Months Is Fired After Internal Affairs Investigation

A city detective who was arrested twice in four months has been fired by Police Chief Fred Fletcher. David Catchings had been charged with DUI last September and then with domestic assault at the end of the year. Police said, "After a complete review of both investigations – which included recommendations from Internal Affairs, the Administrative Review Committee and Officer ... (click for more)

Trojans Crush Bradley, 12-2, To Go 7-0 In 5-AAA

Soddy-Daisy is still in the clean air. Shortstop Justin Cooke and designated hitter Grant Cordell combined for four hits, eight RBIs and three runs scored Monday night as Soddy-Daisy turned a tight game into a rout with a seven-run sixth inning and clobbered visiting Bradley Central, 12-2, in a District 5-AAA baseball game at Tom Higgins Field. The win pushes the Trojans ... (click for more)

Central Scores Early, Hangs On To Beat Red Bank, 7-6

Central baseball coach Glen Carter could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His Purple Pounders had bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings of Monday's 6-AA skirmish with the Red Bank Lions and things were looking pretty good for those guys in purple. But it all came down to Red Bank's final at-bat.  The Lions sent eight hitters to the plate and scored ... (click for more)