When it was announced that Johnny Manziel would be crowned the Heisman for the 2012-2013 season, he became the superstar of college football seemingly overnight.
He took the NCAA by storm, putting up over 5,000 yards of total offense. Not only did he beat the eventual National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide, but also topped off the season by triumphing over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl.
As the sun set on Manziel’s season, the sky was the limit, but as the offseason progressed, an increasing amount of stories about Manziel’s off-field activities brought the player’s maturity into question.
It began with reports about Manziel being kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy and walked out of frat parties.
The stories became more disturbing when Manziel’s father came forward to the media, expressing his concern with his son’s drinking problems.
Finally, as if to add a cherry on top to the sundae of the public relations nightmare that was Manziel’s offseason, he was caught in the middle of a serious NCAA violation for allegedly being paid to sign autographs.
Drinking alcohol and going to parties is not out of the ordinary for a college athlete, but Manziel is the defending Heisman champion, which many college football analysts believe carries with it a certain expected reputation.
If someone were to look at the historic legacy of Heisman winners, they would find players like Tim Tebow, Desmond Howard and Robert Griffin III. All of these men were not only great college athletes, but examples of how one should act both on and off the field, due to their humility and high moral character.
“I think the standard (of maturity) is more put on by people that haven’t won it,” said Taylor Jones, a junior at Maryville College. “There should be a standard, but Manziel shouldn’t be the example of maturity.”
What has been somewhat forgotten is that the Heisman is not a sportsmanship award; it is an award given to the best college player in the NCAA in a given year. Ultimately, there is a fine line that a Heisman winner must walk with his actions.
Although the Heisman isn’t a sportsmanship award, the Heisman does come with an expectation to act more maturely, as even Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin noted in a press conference last month.
That isn’t to say that Manziel shouldn’t be a college kid and do some of the things that someone in college does; instead, maybe it would be wise for Manziel to know when and when not to act like a 20-year-old red shirt sophomore.
Manziel’s offseason behavior has carried onto the field to start the 2013 season. After being forced to sit out the first half due to a suspension, he was penalized for trash talking after scoring a touchdown in the Aggies’ season opener against Rice.
One has to wonder if his behavior will eventually cost the Aggies some wins this season, bringing up the question of whether his behavior will become a detriment to his team or not.
“In a sense, he is a stallion. You don’t want to break him, because you might lose some of that talent. But at the same time, controlling that behavior is a must,” said Brenon Picarella, MC senior.
However, Jones said that he did not have a problem with his trash talking as long as he wasn’t “doing anything too serious.”
Another issue that has been brought up by NFL draft analysts and scouts is whether or not this offseason will hurt Manziel’s draft stock. When the NFL evaluates a player, everything is looked at, including behavior, which could ultimately become a problem for Manziel.
“It’s going to have to be in the right situation for him,” Jones said. “The [Oakland] Raiders would be a bad place for him. A place like New York with a lot of scrutiny would be a bad place, as well.”
Manziel is an enigma in the world of football because no one knows exactly how to handle his incessant antics. His behavior has come into conflict with his play making ability and it makes his future somewhat of a mystery.
One thing is for sure: No matter what his future may be, the whole country will be glued to the television, waiting to see what Johnny Football will do next.