So now we have allegations of Autographs-For-Hire, a preemptive strike by the NCAA/ESPN team on the bullet-riddled body and psyche of Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Texas A&M predictably and decisively responded, “No comment,” instead of vehemently defending this young man, though the school may, perhaps, still be traumatized by the recent loss of yet another outstanding young man on the football team to a tragic accident.
We learned Monday evening A&M has now gone out and hired an Alabama law firm to defend its property and, hopefully, prepare a lawsuit for defamation.
Yes, you’re right; there’s already one lawsuit that’s ongoing against the NCAA pertaining to the use of college athletes’ names and likenesses, headed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon. It includes all-time greats Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell, and now six current athletes have joined in on the fun. Class-action, anyone? Johnny, there’s still a spot being held for you at the head table, but there’s probably not a vengeful bone in your body that I’ve seen anyway…unless it’s to kill a golf club.
But this article isn’t an attack on the NCAA or ESPN, only on the people representing them. We know that good people also work in the IRS; you just don’t know who they are, specifically. No, this article is more along the lines of a Doc Holliday rather than a Johnny Ringo.
This AMATEUR athlete, under no contractual obligation whatsoever, brings in thousands of dollars – at the school’s bequest – either through his personal presence at a sold-out $20,000 dinner table, or via autographed memorabilia strategically stored away and ready to be sold for $15K, anytime and anywhere it is called upon. But hey, colleges can’t legally profit off a player’s likeness, right? No, this can only be done at official functions, such as Coach’s nights, Quarterback Club Meetings, team dinners, scheduled personal appearances, etc. How perfectly appropriate, as long as no royalties are paid for No. 2 jerseys. No, we don’t do that!
Until the NCAA and its ESPN snipers’ forensic team find any actual grease on the palms of the slickest dude in college football history, I think this little file that’s been laying in somebody’s drawer for months, to be revealed on the actual day the Aggies reported for camp, should be slipped quietly back into its drawer, uh, picture and all. Thus far, it’s no more than a hack attack in both journalism and judgment.
I can’t wait to find out what they already have stored up for Coach Sumlin and the Aggies on, say, the next signing date. That should be very interesting, indeed. Timing is crucial in the Sports Media bidness, and after all the huffing and puffing to blow the house down, the only entities to flinch were the gambling organizations, which took everything off the board with the names of Manziel or Texas A&M on them. Shrewd move. Inside trading, perhaps?
I’ve also recently read several takes on a piece from Wright Thompson of ESPN, and the accompanying comments were fairly entertaining – if not sorta hard to stomach. His article snaps off action shots of the Manziel existence for what could pass as reality TV. It doesn’t come off quite as well as, say, Duck Dynasty, but it does open some eyes to the compulsory dysfunction that all Americans seem attracted to. Like flying insects speeding merrily to a neon light, Americans love their troubled ones and are frenetically abuzz amongst themselves upon landing.
My beef with Thompson’s article is that once he discovered what was going on behind the scenes, why didn’t he also drive down to San Antonio to speak with Johnny’s high school coach, Mark Smith, a friend of mine for 30 years? I’d like to know what Johnny’s exceptional “will to win” trait earned him and his team – or cost them – during his playing days in Kerrville.
Then after allowing this sports journalist a free pass into their lives, the Manziels must have been shocked to see Thompson in an interview on ESPN say, “Manziel can be an idiot.” Think about this for a moment. How many were cheering this statement? Think about the Manziels, who may have considered it just another betrayal of trust. Later Tim Brando, a fellow Louisianian who I had the pleasure of listening to at the Ole Miss Quarterback Club Kickoff this past week, commented on his radio show that some people are just better off without parents, implying Johnny’s worst enemies may be his own Mom and Dad. And on it goes.
As a four-year starter at A&M at the quarterback position, back when our teams began “building the brand” ( a 50% increase in stadium capacity immediately following our era IS “brand building”), I’m one who sees LEADERSHIP in anger. It’s part of football, although many with no quarterbacking experience may not see the productivity potential of such anger in leadership. Sorry folks; it’s a requisite in football to have a unique passion that overflows on occasion into frustration when wanting to get something accomplished or corrected. How many times have we seen a QB showing frustration with a teammate as the cameras zoom in and thought, “Oh man, this guy’s a jerk.” No, he’s not. He is a coach on the field, and this is how coaches are wired to react. If this is tough to watch, go find yourself some tennis.
This is Johnny’s shield and, unfortunately, his Achilles heel, simply because people do not understand the correlation between the two. When you lead a football team trained to crush the opposition physically, mentally and emotionally, you comprehend the concept. It comes naturally for the great ones who know tact is its only moderator. Weak minds can’t do this. Tolerant minds can’t do this. Only minds with a vision and an untamed intensity level can do this. Johnny sees and feels things differently than any football player before him. Remember “Magic Eye” from the 80s? He’s got it read before you’ve even glanced down.
There’s either an offense or a defense with Johnny Manziel, as his polarizing effect on folks has reached new heights. Let’s see; he has been labeled by his Dad as having anger issues because he’s a perfectionist. Hey, I’ve been on a golf course with former top-notch college quarterbacks. That wasn’t fun, either, as they can be somewhat irascible. Their competitive nature removes any enjoyment of just being out on a beautiful day enjoying some countryside. My inability to physically play the game because of a collarbone injury in college precluded any fits of anger on my part, so I was just along for the ride.
Johnny’s been said to deal with the pressures by drinking some cold beer. Okay, we’ve got anger issues and a propensity for downing some cold ones. Perhaps this sounds a little familiar to millions of Americans…mirror, mirror on the wall. To top it off, he has audaciously celebrated his once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment and matching talent in a manner never before done, ahem, known to be done, in college football history. This will brew up resentment aplenty from some and admiration from others.
After taking over a very talented Texas A&M football team at 17 years of age, I know exactly where he’s coming from. In our playing days during the mid-70s we had one team rule; no beer drinking allowed on Fridays during the season. Eighteen was the legal drinking age. Yes, there were even those who happily contributed to my juvenile delinquency and I never even considered carrying a fake ID. Seriously, that was the rule. No beer on the day before the game. Sometimes we even had occasional beers with several of our coaches–and also had the first back-to-back 10-win seasons in the school’s history. That’s where we learned the term “Everything in Moderation.” That WAS moderation. And it WAS college.
The problem arises when you leave college, but cling to the college spirits, if you will. This is what lands most people in trouble, and for Johnny’s sake, I hope he recognizes this sooner than later. Many individuals live with the fact that the only truly regrettable mistakes they’ve made in life were while under the influence of alcohol. Tebow and Manziel may be in different galaxies, but I believe both to be good men true to themselves and their convictions. Self-image is one thing and public perception another, while reality likely lies somewhere in between.
Johnny now gets advice from every Tom, Dick and Sherry who can talk or type. His own school newspaper wants him gone, and the coaching staff allegedly revealed confidential information regarding what he thought were settled, in-house matters. The AD publicly announced a little counseling session between himself and the family, and, meanwhile, the coach earns a million dollar raise. No. 2 jerseys are seen EVERYWHERE in Texas and every other spot in the WORLD where Aggies live. Even the NCAA, itself, is currently profiting off maroon A&M jerseys that bear the #2 on them–and sport the word “Football” on the back.
Meanwhile there’s a national frenzy on the part of the media–who seem to publicly despise Johnny, but deep down love the freebies. They appear to enjoy having the floor and flooding the airwaves with their opinions, which he has so graciously provided them.
Meanwhile, Johnny plays for a school that is insistent on receiving the credit for its “brand-building” efforts, as if Texas A&M just opened its doors a few years ago. Former Marketeer at A&M, Jason Cook, was quoted prior to Johnny’s Heisman night saying, “The A&M brand is BIGGER than Johnny Manziel.” Seriously? Why throw that out there? What happened to the credo, “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit?”
You never know what’s going on inside the walls of an athletic department. It’s a simple fact that what you see isn’t necessarily a result of all you may think. Cause and effect rule the game–and, though you may see the latter, you certainly don’t always see what goes into the former. My college coach once made derogatory comments to the media regarding my mental state. In no way would this be allowed today. In my case, it was the coach’s way of covering up some serious medical malfeasance that remained publicly concealed until only recently. It was easier for him to imply I had some sort of mental issue, than explain what my physical injuries were–and why they had been covered up. Johnny faces similar criticisms today. He is now a so-called “head-case” to many, and this is truly unfortunate.
And when all a player wants to do is be on that field, then anything goes, and he’ll sit there and take it, but he steams none-the-less. Or, perhaps, he lets his Mom and Dad air out the family grievances so as not to endure personal vendettas or repercussions from those for whom he works. Brilliant.
The fact that Johnny’s parents apparently now have resentment toward A&M, and chose to publicize it while under questioning, is easily understandable, regardless of how we judge the content or meaning of their observations. They’ve seen and heard many “loyal” Aggies crushing their son on the radio and in the forums, and they worry about a coming explosion or pending catastrophe, as any parent would. Pressure.
From my own personal experience with this sort of external and internal treatment, I have no doubt Johnny Football will come in with the Eye of the Tiger demanding excellence, and everyone had better look out. If you think John Elway was tough on his teammates, you ain’t seen nothing yet. What everyone forgets is, Johnny owns this rodeo and everything in it. If he offends a few guys, they’ll need to learn to live with it because there is no room for error. If a receiver can’t escape a defender, then get the guy off the field; he’s no good to me. If a guy can’t remember his assignments, then get him off the field too. Everybody who’s gonna play FOR Johnny Manziel better have their heads screwed on straight. I imagine his patience is running a little thin. This is actually his Junior year for both football and education, and ultra-talented, experienced 20 year-olds make outstanding leaders. Learning curve? Sorry. Get lost.
Johnny’s Number 1 ranking among returning quarterbacks in ESPN’s all-new (and extremely righteous) QBR rating system for college quarterbacks is further proof we’re only on the cusp of his potential. The demons apparently disappear when the lights come on and a football is in his hand. And as someone once said, “Sometimes the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors, and fight battles nobody knows about.”
Me? I can only hope he wins four Heismans and flips everyone off on his way out the door. But that’s just wishful thinking. Meanwhile, it’s time for Johnny Football to be getting in some target practice of his own.
Twenty years ago our Fightin’ Texas Aggies were in the midst of a 34-1-1 conference run in games played inside our stadium. After a mid-decade slump, we surged back to 18-0 in games played from 1997 through 1999. We were bad to the bone again at home. Ours was as formidable a home-field advantage as any campus in the country. It’s been a long time since, though, and our Aggies haven’t gone undefeated in conference play at home since ‘99.
Now with the perilous SEC road trips we face, we can’t afford to lose a home
game — though our Aggies have fortunately proven to be quite the Road Warriors. How times have changed! The Supermen in black jerseys at Mississippi State; the catch and swagger by Swope at Alabama; Manziel’s 181 yards rushing to fight off a great rally at Louisiana Tech; the bomb from the one-yard line in Oxford; the pick at the one by Everett in Tuscaloosa … we saw it all from our Ags on the road last year!
As every fan from LSU, Arkansas, Florida and Missouri who made the trip to
College Station last season will attest, we Aggies are the nicest hosts you’ll
find this side of the Sabine River. The parking lots on campus hold the most
polite crowd of registered gun-totin’ conservatives you’ll ever meet in enemy
territory. I mean, George Bush even chose the A&M campus for his very own
Presidential Library, for Reagan’s sake.
Our football teams and our chosen generals have reflected this conservative
thought for at least the last 40 years, ever since the powers-that-be introduced great defense and the Wishbone offense to the Aggies faithful in the early ’70s. That tank formation represented a real Army’s offense; it was a gut-wrenching, smash-mouth, in-the-trenches-type warfare that had one wide receiver to keep the enemy honest. Jab, jab and then flank ‘em with a left hook.
Every coach since has sung the same refrain. The only thing to hang our hat
on in Aggieland has been defense; the “Mad Dogs” of the ’70s (named after
defensive coordinator Melvin “Mad Dog” Robertson) and years later, the Wrecking Crew. Just like those famed defenses of Aggies lore, another must soon present itself for this team to reach the heights it imagines, all nicknames aside.
Over the years, our Aggies bypassed the Run-and-Shoot and Air Raid offensive systems in favor of multiple formations, two backs and scores of ever-shifting tight ends and jumbo sets. The offensive juggernaut never showed up, nor was it ever even on the table. Coach Mike Sherman tried to move away from the status quo for a single game, but then went back to what he knew best for the remainder of his tenure. Franchione never came close to real freedom of expression. And who can even count the number of offensive coordinators R.C. Slocum went through?
Conservatism here meant run the clock, play ball possession and defend. Winning 7-0 and never throwing a pass was real football for decades for Aggie patrons–the good folks who remained tucked away in our own little world while our opponents’ footballs soared around us like jet aircrafts. While this conservatism might be a good philosophy for high school teams with players performing on both offense and defense, it’s not necessarily a prime-time philosophy with real players. Apparently someone with football smarts and sufficient influence finally began admiring these sleek, new offensive aircraft and even coveted one for himself.
12th Man Stadium, still referred to as Kyle Field among the locals, but not necessarily nationally, is a great place to play. “Welcome to the Home of the 12th Man” is what all the signs say. No college football fans enjoy their Saturdays more than we folks clad in Maroon and White yelling our “Whoops” and “Gig ‘ems” at perfect strangers. I mean, who on Earth
could get offended by seeing someone shooting them a big “thumbs-up” with a smile? The feeling in the air is always electric regardless of the opponent
scheduled, but as human nature would have it, the adrenaline pumps a little
quicker for some ‘incomings’ rather than others.
And the SEC Stadium of Texas is getting bigger very soon … 25-percent bigger, to be precise.
[Related: Full design renderings and construction schedule for Kyle Field expansion]
Game Day mornings begin with the normal tailgating so prevalent throughout the SEC, and the swelling “spirit” these hours of reunion creates soon reaches fever pitch. Once inside the gates there are the songs of the Big Band that get our Aggie hearts pumping like no other sound on earth. The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band plays the tremendous traditional songs of Aggieland and also the great instrumentals from U.S. Military history. You know what you’re getting each time you walk in and see that beautiful grass, a stadium full of fans and all those glorious golden horns.
Then, real jets do a thunderous flyover, the National Anthem is played and the Captains walk out to the middle of the field. Suddenly we’ve got us a football game! It will decide not only who the better team is, but also the better school, students, alumni, mascot, state, uniforms, and, at times, even
the better conference. Re-embrace OU, if you will. Big Who?
Yet this atmosphere is just as exciting for the visiting players as it is for the team standing along the Press Box side. It creates a deep-gut feeling of the Foxhole inside their camp; one of fighting for Country, Family and especially at that moment, their Teammates. It’s fightin’ music for both sides unlike any other in the country! It brings out the little boy in each of them and little boys dream of great battles an upset victories.
No home crowd in college football has more to prove in 2013 than that of Texas A&M’s. The famous 12th Man, for all its glory, has yet to prove we can come anywhere close to a present-day Death Valley in Baton Rouge or Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa, or that we can reignite the strangle-holds of the
‘70s and ‘90s.
Great home crowds have watched teams march unfazed downfield and punch in the winning score right in the teeth of our Aggie throngs, without as much as a flinch. It’s all about intimidation, fire and brimstone and a deep-seated hatred for the other team who is trying to beat ours. We’re not talking about whipping up on the patsies here; we’re talking about the LSUs, Gators, Tide and even the Longhorns, should they ever drop back in for a whuppin’. Texas Who?
But if you’re going to assume ‘victory’ because this team is playing at home, then you haven’t been paying attention. It’s puzzling for us who have been watching the Aggies for 40 to 50 years. 2012 was going to change all this, but
there we were struggling on offense and flinching when disaster came calling.
In your face, Aggies! SEC! Yes, we opened the door to LSU and Florida in 2012 in our first two conference home games; two teams that easily could have been beaten — two teams on which we had double-digit leads.
Then, almost like it’s your first Algebra class where everything is so confusing — the lights came on! Suddenly it didn’t matter where the Aggies played. We played three straight SEC teams on the road and topped it off with a huge win at none other than Alabama. We beat America’s Dynasty without an extra week of rest. I can’t express how difficult it is to play three tough road games back-to-back-to-back, much less downright leaving your opponents in the dust. What a tribute to this team and staff’s preparation and enthusiasm which left no doubt throughout. Pulling out the white helmets regularly for the first time since the ’70s was pretty special too. Ol’ Emory would be proud.
[Related: Where will the new Kyle Field it among nation's biggest stadiums?]
Then to come back home to Kyle and literally crush Missouri and finish the season with the best second half of football this ol’ quarterback has ever seen
was truly special. We’ll never forget the Stoops boys throwing their hats and visors and shaking their heads in a mix of disgust and utter amazement. Yes,
A&M had only won six of its last 25 season finales and had never won in Jerry World, but this ain’t your father’s football program here anymore, boys
Only in 2011 have the Aggies ever had such high aspirations with the season
approaching. We had finished the previous season by winning our last six regular season games after a quarterback change and had a bunch of folks coming back. We just didn’t finish the deal against LSU in the Cotton Bowl. We didn’t hullabaloo the bug-a-boo, and the double-digit hangover stuck around for the entire 2011 season, much to the fans’ and coaches’ dismay. When were we ever gonna catch a break? Continuous Status Quo equated to Insanity for this football team and its 12th Man, but a year after that a rather drastic departure from the norm occurred. Glory Hallelujah!
Everyone knows that one game stands out this coming season — Alabama on
September 14. Yes, the same defending national champion Alabama that is currently favored by six points over our Ags. The Gall of it All! We’ll need all of our Mojo and Hullabaloo in this one. We’ll need special Avatars at the receiver positions to prevent a reoccurrence of last season’s early SEC upsets on our football field. These young men are present on the squad; trust me. It’s a matter of showing up and being sort of super-human at 2:30 pm local. With the little-engine-that-could shredding the defenders with his lasers, it’s gonna be one heck of a celebration — and our 12th Man must become its former dominating force once more, year in and year out. Farmers FIGHT!
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.
Johnny Manziel's marketing and NFL potential; Golden shoes for a golden parachute? (Over 8,000 reads!)
I have to tell ya, seeing my man Johnny Manziel down there in Cajun Country during the Super Bowl did this ol’ boy good. Hobnobbing with the Duck Dynasty guys and my personal fave, Justin Timberlake, it just doesn’t get any better than this. As you may know by now, I was born and raised in Louisiana and committed to the LSU Tigers before turning Aggie – much to my Mom’s chagrin, God rest her soul.
My Dad and I did a lot of duck hunting together so when I saw the picture of Johnny and his “Pops” with a limit of ducks after a hunt in Arkansas, well, that was pretty cool too. My Dad and grandparents were from Green Forest, Arkansas. I’m assuming the NCAA checked to make sure it was Mr. Manziel who paid for Johnny’s out-of-state hunting license, and not some over-zealous owner of the, ahem, Dallas Cowboys.
Get on outta here, you NFL scoundrels!
They’re starting to act like the “Dude Perfect” throws Johnny made through the net from the top of the stadium were rather impressive. Johnny likes hitting the Net. What’s even more impressive is that Johnny called his shot and simply whirled and threw. I mean, his eyes barely had time to find the target before the ball was out of his hand. Do you know how SMALL that window was? You don’t teach that, no sir.
No wonder Philadelphia hired the only college coach in Chip Kelly who, for a while there, was the lone guy in the country who recognized the value in Johnny Kerrville. Hold your horses there, pahtnahs.
Okay, all in good fun, right? Next we have Internet-gate, an “admission” volunteered by the star quarterback regarding his online status this semester at A&M. You see, he’s not actually taking any classes that require his presence in a brick and mortar building, sort of like taking tests with E-trade and Ameritrade without the pitfalls or windfalls. Online courses are nothing new. My favorite prof at A&M told me in ’08 that online courses were the next big thing. He told me he was worried about the profession of Professoring. I get it.
My daughter spent a year online and doing clinicals to get her Nursing license after getting her college degree in Spanish and Creative Writing. It took hard work and was tremendously challenging, but she achieved her goal and is now a Cardiac ICU Nurse — a rather important job. So I don’t fret when I see young people like Johnny taking courses online. It’s not cheating or slacking or any of these other characterizations going around. In Johnny’s case, it’s simply called “focus.” If you need to go receive the Davey O’Brien Award one week or head out to California the next to get your form back in line to throw those delicious heat-seeking spirals of his, it’s called preparing for your future
while taking care of business.
Now, but with an Eye on the Future! That’s the motto.
He’ll be back in the classrooms in the fall anyway. There is only a handful or so of online courses available in his Sports Management major.
You’ve probably noticed by now that Johnny is pretty darned difficult to trap in any situation.
When the A&M athletic director called Johnny’s folks into his office for a little chat soon after he’d received the nation’s top door prize, they were probably thinking, ‘That’s fine, sir. You won’t have to worry about us too much longer’.
[Related: Manziel told reporters that he checks with the Compliance
Office every time he does something]
I recall being asked by a local car dealership to do a commercial for them before my final season. When I asked around, I was told I couldn’t be compensated for anything while I still had eligibility. I couldn’t even afford a haircut in those days so this was pretty disappointing. When I went back to the dealership and told them a paid endorsement would cost me my eligibility, they said, “Well, David, we weren’t actually going to pay you anything!” Gee, thanks.
I say this to preface the fact that Johnny’s parents were smart enough and had enough foresight to determine that others would quickly try to make a buck off their son even before he hoisted the Heisman, while the quarterback himself would go penniless. That’s rather tough to swallow in this day and age so they created a company and hired an attorney to protect Johnny’s interests from now ‘til eternity. This act alone should be honored by the Better Business Bureau somehow since it’s the first business model of its kind. It’s even more wonderful now that the NCAA has proclaimed “Winner Take All” for JMAN2 in the event there actually are any royalties/fines/payolas forthcoming. Paybacks are Hell, people!
I was the first player to wear the No. 8 jersey at A&M in 45 years when I became the starting quarterback as a true, 17 year-old freshman. The number had last been worn in 1927 by the nation’s leading scorer, Joel Hunt. It was truly an honor for me to be wearing such a famous guy’s number, although in truth I asked for it in Archie Manning’s memory, and not Joel Hunt’s. I mean, I was from Louisiana.
Anyway, suddenly there were No. 8 jerseys in every bookstore, sporting goods store and clothing store in Texas. Maroon “Welcome to Aggieland” floor mats made of cloth were sold locally with my image — a lefty QB wearing the No. 8 sewn on them in white – during my freshman year.
Joel Hunt had been gone for almost half a century so, although it may sound cocky, I had reason to believe he wasn’t the driving force behind the sales.
All-America kicker Tony Franklin, who was just named to the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame ballot, donned No. 1 a couple of years later and the same thing happened with his. The only other player to line up wearing this jersey was our split end, Carl Roaches, but at this point everyone who was buying No. 1 knew exactly whose jersey they were sporting.
I sell Aggie t-shirts by the sea shore and I’ve paid royalties to Texas A&M for every last one of them. None involve Johnny, although I do have one that says, “The Ag 1-2 Punch.” I created this slogan before Johnny ever visited A&M, and now it just so happens that our top running back is No. 1 and we all know what number Johnny is, and together they truly are quite the 1-2 punch. But I don’t think they’ll come after me for it. Sometimes things are fortuitous and it’s already licensed and approved by the University. Lucky me.
The point is, I can’t remember who the last player was to wear No. 2 in Aggieland. I just can’t, but I’m seeing Maroon and White No. 2 jerseys everywhere I go. During my high school years there was a popular song titled, “It’s a Rip-off.” This arrangement sort of is, too. We all know NUMBERS can’t be trademarked in any color, but really, name me another Number 2.
No, Tom Clements doesn’t count. (See Joel Hunt)
And how many folks would lose their shirts (pun intended) if Johnny decided to go with Number 3 next season in honor of transferred teammate Jameill Showers? Ouch. That could hurt some pocketbooks.
From what I’m seeing, the NCAA has the universities and their fans in a bind, but we may have a player here who just made the NCAA even more obsolete. Concessions must be made to the players, or the college fans who pay the bills will continue to get ramrodded sooner than later. It’s already rather ridiculous for college basketball fans in the way players now zoom in and zoom out. Just ask Kentucky how well their new crop of freshmen are faring in Lexington these days.
While guys like me felt a sense of pride seeing their jerseys hanging on racks in stores, today’s player sees dollar signs.
We don’t want to lose Johnny Manziel after this coming season. Isn’t there anything that can be done? Can’t the NCAA allow the schools the power to license their players’ identities (brands) just as they do their own, and then pay the players a percentage? Most royalties are in the 8-percent range of the goods’ invoice prices, so how about a split? Wouldn’t that be fair, NCAA?
What if a poor guy gets in Johnny’s shoes and his family can’t afford to start an entire company the way the Manziels did? What happens when the family’s attorney adds “Agent” to his or her repertoire? It seems there’s a tremendous amount of money for our schools and players being left on the table and some risky business in off-campus handshakes.
Philadelphia? San Diego? Dallas? Really? Thank goodness we’ve got that insurance policy handled. That’s simply a no-brainer. After suffering a broken neck myself without any insurance coverages whatsoever, trust me, they can come in handy. It’s hard to pay the medical bills at 13-percent on all those credit cards it took to get it fused back together. Injuries definitely happen in sports and we must be prepared. Good strategerations right there.
Johnny was wearing gold football cleats in Saturday’s first practice of the spring. We wore gold cleats in high school in our games. Our uniforms and our offense were way ahead of their time, and so is the Rocket Man. His foundation is being built on solid rock and whatever the shoes represent or signify, I can only surmise they’re being worn for a reason other than being the perfect match for his feet. Perhaps a golden parachute?
Yeah, it’s gotta be the shoes. They top off the perfect ensemble.
Good for you, Johnny Football. Keep the groundbreaking going. Your brothers and sisters-in-arms are counting on you. And don’t forget, we’re adding 30,000 more seats just for you here in Aggieland. Gig ‘em!
My 90 year-old Aggies landlord, Henry Hilton, stopped by the other day after returning from a vacation in Italy. Sometimes he likes to come by and chew the
fat, though he’s not getting around as well as he did five years ago when we first met here in College Station. Back then, my youngest girl had just transferred to A&M from Belmont University in Nashville where she’d attended several semesters to study music. As Texas’ 5A Soprano One First Chair (or State Champ, as I call her), she felt Belmont was her best choice to continue her music studies after considering Berklee in Boston and NYU. We’d vacationed in Nashville earlier in hers’ and her sister’s childhoods and the college seemed familiar and down-home to her Mom and me.
She had never visited A&M, with the exception of spending a week at a basketball camp one summer during her junior high years. The thing was, in all those years of raising her and her sister and working most weekends myself, I’d never had the opportunity to bring our family to an A&M football game.
My girls were basketball players and involved in church and other social activities, and not surprisingly, weren’t football fans. My coaching days were long over and other than attending an occasional high school game, I was pretty much on my own in the Man Cave. They even called it “The Cave” back then. How funny; I’m thinking a lady came up with the term.
I decided one weekend to fly her in from Nashville and we drove into College Station for a game. When I was arranging for tickets, I was told over the phone the seats were located three rows from the top in the end zone, so I asked for seats at the very top, which I received. I mean, if you’re that close already, why not go all the way? Well, little did I know, she fell in love with Texas A&M — its yell leaders and student section, the hand signals they’d give to alert the crowd of the next yell, the band and the spirit. She even started studying the program to decipher what all was coming up next. I sort of beamed.
The game was great too. We fell behind Oklahoma State but came back and beat the Cowboys for what may turn out to be the last time in our school’s history. My daughter transferred into Aggieland and received a double degree in Psychology and Sociology, and for now has her singing career on hold. Named after Carly Simon, I figure she’ll be a star once she’s ready to roll. After my Longhorn lady and I split up after our 25-year contract expired, I decided I’d move back to College Station and catch up on some games, some Aggie camaraderie and be around if my new Aggie needed anything.
While driving through a neighborhood that sits pretty close to the campus, I saw a “For Rent” sign and a truck sitting in the gravel driveway. Stopping and getting out, I peered into a window where a gentleman was busy with some repairs. I yelled, “You’re working too hard in there!” He looked up and smiled, and I said, “Can I come in?”
We introduced ourselves and he asked me if I was David Walker, the quarterback, to which I responded, “Yes, sir.” He told me his wife had bought their two sons both mine and kicker Tony Franklin’s jerseys back when they were just kids. This was pretty cool. I asked him what the ‘going rate’ was on the little 2-bedroom house and he told me. I’d driven by this same house a thousand times when I was in college, so it already felt a little like home to me. I’d even been in a bad wreck in front of it when a guy U-turned on me from the right lane just after sunset one evening.
Little did I know I’d be in another accident a couple of years later that would break my neck. It would be in this house I would type my memoirs two-fingered (it’s how I roll), unknowingly suffering from a cervical fracture and two complete dislocations.
I said, “Deal,” and Mr. Hilton gave me his agent’s business card and said she’d get me ready to roll. While apartments were requiring proof of employment, this gentleman never asked for any; it was an Aggie deal. There once was a time when a handshake in Aggieland was all one needed and jobs were easy to find.
My landlord is a former Marine who was a civil engineer for the Military for many years, most of them spent overseas or in South America. I asked him what he thought of Johnny Manziel and the season we’d just had. He first told me about a game in 1940 when Texas A&M was about to repeat as national champions, having won it all in 1939. The last game of the season in ’40 was in Austin against our former bitter rival, the University of Texas. Tickets, he said, were $1.10 and many of the boys couldn’t get inside the stadium because they didn’t have the money. Security had a pretty good eye on all the gates and fences, but a delivery truck pulled up and when the gate opened, a few of them were able to dash in and scatter.
Hey, you had to make do in those days.
Apparently it was a heartbreaking loss, and he hitch-hiked back to a little town called Hearne with a couple of well-to-do, very happy Texas grads after the game. Hearne was still about 30 miles out, so he hitch-hiked the rest of the way with some fellow Ags who were coming back from the game.
Seventy-two years later, he still has trouble talking about that night.
He quickly brightened though, changed his tone and looked me in the eyes and said, “Dave, this season was the best I can remember since 1939.” How could anyone have enjoyed it more than a 90 year-old Aggie, and our quarterback? There’s surely others who came close but after observing this gentleman’s demeanor, I’m satisfied none surpassed him.
He was wearing a company jacket that I noticed had the name of Ennis, Texas on it. He told me the story about how he’d received it from one of the city contractors once when he was on a job there. I mentioned that our quarterback had just gotten himself a speeding ticket in Ennis and the judge, a Baylor grad (don’t mess with Texas football!) was claiming they’d caught the Joker, or somebody just as notorious, for excessive use of acceleration in their quaint little speed-trap town. The judge added that college defenses couldn’t catch Johnny but their police department sure had … wait, make that, “allegedly.”
Mr. Hilton (yes, I call him Mister Hilton) just laughed. All the stories the media guys and gals have passed judgment on and the little “meeting” our athletic director from A&M had with Johnny’s parents are all laughable matters in real-time. Even Johnny said a week later that neither his parents nor the A.D. had informed him of the details of any such discussion. He only knew what the A.D. had quoted to the papers. This tells me that Johnny’s parents know which apple carts to topple, and which not to. Apparently this little sit-down didn’t amount to the big ol’ blip on the radar screen the A.D. had hoped for.
After all, since my playing days began during the modern era of football at A&M (the Vietnam War ended my Freshman year, coeds were on campus, freshmen were playing real football and the black athletes were coming on board), I’ve got to agree with my landlord. When has any A&M quarterback (Heisman winner or not) been able to enjoy a season AND a season finale like we had this year?
At Texas A&M, great seasons have uncannily been spoiled by losing the ensuing bowl game or being ineligible in the first place. This is why 1976 (10-2 record, ranked 7th nationally with a season-ending 7-game winning streak) and 2012 (11-2, ranked fifth nationally with a season-ending 6-game winning streak) are about as close to reasons for genuine revelry this school has had heading into the off-season.
Jackie Sherrill’s Cotton Bowl-winning season of 1985 certainly ranks in the top 3 for us in the modern era as a ‘body of work with a finish’.
Kevin Murray was exceptional during this 10-2 season and also in beating Auburn and Heisman winner, Bo Jackson.
1987 was also strong but the team was declared ineligible the following spring for the upcoming ’88 season, which certainly erased some luster. Otherwise we have to go back to 1956 to run down another No. 5 team.
Losing season finales is no way to start an off-season. Rarely does a team lose its last game and come back to win the national championship the following season. (Reason for Revelry No. 28). It’s time to celebrate a little and act like we’ve been here before.
Here’s another reason to celebrate. A recent study says Johnny’s Heisman has brought in an estimated 37 million dollars in free exposure. Johnny’s share is zero, or at best, deferred. Self-promotion is the number one key to successful ventures later in life — that time period when the NCAA doesn’t have its stranglehold on you. (Right or Wrong, only TMZ knows for sure.)
The more Johnny hits the spotlight the greater his opportunities will be for endorsements once his college career is done. Responsibilities aside, Johnny has to get out there, preferably with Miss Savage on one arm. Hey, Johnny is no Tebow, and nobody expects or truly wants him to be. I support Johnny in every public endeavor because, as much as everyone seems to believe he’s a kid who doesn’t know any better yet, I would advise you against challenging him in a game of Chess, pool , Monopoly or especially poker. You just might get your butt beat while he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
I was the Conference Freshman of the Year and played the entire season at 17 years of age, and was born in December like Johnny. I’ve still never seen New York City, although I have been to Dallas (to watch Texas play the U and take a girlfriend to try out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders) and I’ve even made it to a few NBA basketball games in my lifetime. What’s up with Jack Nicholson, anyway? No Lakers seats? Of course, they’re not having a particularly stellar season.
Regardless, when Old School meets New School, there’s no contest.
Enjoy Johnny Heisman while you can. Obviously he is a dreamer with a huge imagination. His visualization skills are right on par with his peripheral ones. He’ll try to get it right but if it’s not there, he will improvise. That’s what makes him unpredictable; that’s what makes him Johnny. And he’s pretty good at the laser shot, balcony shot, long ball and longer ball, too. (See Dude Perfect)
[Check it out >> Johnny Football pulls off some unreal trick shots with Dude Perfect]
I’ve been saying this since I knighted him the No. 1 quarterback in A&M’s history following just the second game of his career in a throwback ’70s Aggie uniform. I had to go back and study the replay as a coach would several times before I wrote that week’s article.
Here’s the deal: with the success this Spread offense is having in the NFL, as soon as Johnny gets proficient with the “Zone Read” (referred to in the NFL as the “Zone Option,” probably for elitist reasons) suitors will come calling. You’ve got RG3 in Washington (are you kidding me?? Shanahan’s running it???), that 5-foot-11 Russell Wilson kid in Seattle (USC’s former coach runs that outfit, who, by the way, lost a national championship to Vince Young’s spread offense at Texas) and Jim Harbaugh, just a couple of years removed from Stanford where he ran a standard Pro set, is now in the Super Bowl with Zone Read Extraordinaire, Colin Kaepernick, after a mid-season promotion and a distinct change in offensive direction.
The next news out of the NFL was that the Oregon Ducks’ coach, his team a shoe-in for preseason Top 3 honors, decided to change funky uniforms yet again and became an Eagle — as in, Philadelphia. Guess what offense he runs.
Johnny Manziel has tweeted previously while watching Drew Brees hit throw after throw that Drew is proof-positive that 72 inches of height can easily get the job done in the NFL. Unfortunately for me, not many folks believed this in the late ’70s, especially about guys in the 71-inch category running Wishbones. They do now.
And while Kaepernick is not short of stature, he has a much smaller man’s wheels. Just ask the Falcons.
The clincher is, just like Drew Brees, Johnny only had a few colleges contact him about coming to play football for them. Drew came back from a tough knee injury his junior year in high school to lead Austin’s Westlake High to the 5A championship, and still, not a peep was heard from the gods of Texas football. He even had an uncle who was a tremendous option quarterback at Texas named Marty Akins. Drew wasn’t even recruited as a maybe-defensive back there. He eventually went to Purdue and shattered every passing record and won a ton of games. By gosh, he’s also won the Super Bowl.
Johnny, while under the same recruiting duress as non-college prospect Drew was — sans the knee surgery — verbally committed to go play for powerhouse Oregon, with the same coach who now heads up the Eagles organization. This was the only guy in America, besides Sherman at A&M and Coach Sumlin who was still at Houston, who believed in Johnny enough after his junior year to offer him a scholarship.
Do you think Johnny might be on Philly’s radar, especially with Michael Vick on yet another downswing? I do.
I’d say Johnny is the ultimate juker and certainly won’t be anybody’s Joker, at least not for long. He’s already heard an A&M rep telling ESPN that the Texas A&M brand is bigger than Johnny Manziel. His parents have been called into the principal’s office with what seems to be a reprimand/warning, and the NCAA has its eyes on his every move via Twitter, Facebook, TMZ, Vegas and the normal scumbags out there with smart phones. Meanwhile, Johnny is back attending to his studies, doing some light-hearted singing occasionally with that Clint Black smile of his, giving interviews at the halftimes of basketball games and signing anything put in front of him. Just stay grounded, Johnny. 37 million, huh?
He may be a very wealthy young man in just a little over a year from now. It almost makes you wish Mike Sherman would’ve had reason to see if Johnny could have saved his job as a true freshman, just to have seen him play another year. Our best bet may be to continue to shun the Zone Read (Option) in our offensive attack.
At any rate, Johnny Manziel will be to Philly — or anyone else moving up in the draft order — what Joe Willie Namath was to New York and the Jets: their Savior. Hey, how have Tebow and Sanchez been doing lately?
I just hope the Senior Bowl players were right when they voted the Aggies next season’s National Champions. Mr. Hilton would enjoy that.
This hand, guys, the Juker is wild.