Our Louisiana Hall of Fame coach, Shannon Suarez, would tell us every day, “It ain’t far from the penthouse to the outhouse.” As a countrified sports truism, it stands alone. It makes itself visible all the time, doesn’t it, Tiger?
Well, now here’s Johnny! His horse just got spooked out from underneath him, and in the minds of millions today, he’s either flat on his backside or dangling from some live oak tree. The athletic director just saw the dark side of the Moon and one can be sure it’s never seen a Tide.
[TWEET TWEET: Johnny Manziel 'can't wait to leave College Station']
Sure, it may have been self-inflicted, but Johnny is certainly not the first to wage war on a defenseless city without warning. As far back as when the Vietnam War was ending, hundreds of us Aggie footballers did exactly the same thing in this small Texas town of College Station. Fortunately for us, it was only our parents who were on the other end of the wall phone listening to our descriptions of massive discomfort.
Nowadays, the wall phone and long-distance toll calls have transformed into clicks on a little smart phone; harmless little peckings as texts go — but real giant killers as tweets go. One must know the difference. Text or tweet. Tweet or text. One means letting off a little steam to those who are closest to you, while the other is the F-Bomb dropped right in the middle of Town Square.
The Rule of Thumb here is to text only your girl or best bud in times of angst. That’s not
reckless. But, you see, Johnny lives like he plays—on the edge. That’s just the way it is with athletes. But if you do tweet criticism of the town in which you currently live, you may find out where the love truly lies. Maybe less followers and more haters is a good thing. And based on the exit polls I’ve been trolling, it appears that maybe 10% are justifying his statement(s), as best they can.
And as great of an athlete as this young college student is, it just doesn’t seem to matter in the eyes of the voters. Many of these haters seem ready to nail him to the cross, put his wrapped body in a canoe, and send him down the Brazos River somewhere.
But the truth is, as I heard on sports radio this morning, nobody cares much about anything but winning. They seem to be saying, “If you’d just oblige us by keeping your mouth shut and playing football from now on, you’re free to go at any time. Oh, but one more thing–be sure and bring us the big BCS trophy before you point your Beemer or Mercedes to the high country.”
It is this that makes me uncomfortable. It’s not his tweet. Normally the only athletes who stay in College Station are those who grew up in College Station. I can count on two fingers the number of former football players who still live here who aren’t working in some capacity for the university. It’s common knowledge. You could say the same thing about the entire student body. For most Aggies, it’s in and out with visitation rights.
Johnny just voiced what everyone knows, and the people screaming on the Aggie forums will themselves be gone within a couple of years, or already are. The town is centrally located between some pretty good cities, which is its draw. It’s small enough that you can stay out of trouble, as the recruiters like to say. Back in the day we sometimes traveled 30 miles to Sam Houston State in Huntsville for a night out.
Frustration is a human trait and everyone handles theirs differently. He has a right to his opinion and a right to voice it, and with it, the right to turn everything off and avoid those who are calling for his head. With everything else going on, who knows how short his future here may be? It’s the archaic NCAA rules that are partly to blame, disallowing the players to profit on any endorsements that may be available to them as Olympians can.
To me, it’s important to remember that Johnny has not broken the Aggie Code of
Honor in any way, shape, or form. This outpouring of negativity from his own classmates and “former students” certainly can’t be inspiring the young man to “fight for Maroon and White.”
As a guy who has been labeled both “messiah” and “pariah” in his years as the A&M quarterback, I promise the transformation is a difficult one to get a handle on. Johnny’s tweet could be the early echoes of a super-hero desperately wanting to change into his awaiting dynamic attire being held by a smiling general manager.
In the meantime, Johnny will probably allow only his closest friends to be near him, and he will continue to work to have the greatest season of any college quarterback in history.
It’s Johnny against the world now. He has you right where he wants you. In the eyes of a supreme gladiator, this is exactly the mindset Johnny needs. We all just got cut off, gang. I’d be surprised to see him grant a single interview until the end of next season. He has laid out his game plan, and it doesn’t include any know-it-all, loud-mouthed onlookers. You can’t win with negative people in your way – or by your side.
In the end, Johnny’s coach, personnel, offensive system and, oh, the quickest reflexes this side of a rattlesnake, will allow him to accomplish heroic things. With these tools he can become the greatest there ever was, and then say, “See ya.”
Good for you, Johnny. The NFL can’t wait to have you as part of its family.