by Kent Sterling
It’s hard to fathom that Johnny Manziel believes what comes out of his own mouth, but he seemed pretty sure of himself in comments to Sports Illustrated yesterday.
“I probably rubbed people the wrong way in some cases, but at the end of the day, people are mad at me and people are upset at me because I’m doing everything they want to do.
“I’m adapting. I’m learning. I’m trying to learn from these mistakes. But I’m not going to change who I am because the media wants me to be this, this or this. I’m not going to do that. . . . You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon. What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field. I’m still learning how to put that into perspective.”
Manziel, as we would expect, misses what is driving this story from day to day – the fascinating spectacle of watching a kid with everything misbehave his way back to the unruly pack.
He’s not envied by the media or anyone else. Johnny Manziel is a car wreck people can’t stop watching, and he won’t hit the brakes or turn the wheel to avoid the cliff that he’s rushing toward.
He needs to understand is that you don’t satisfy the appetite for information by feeding it. The media and those who consume it must be starved. If Manziel wants a normal life, like he claims, the road is through silence. Don’t say a word to anyone in the media and stay the hell off Twitter. A total media blackout will send people to the next idiot who steps on his crank in public.
But that won’t happen because Manziel doesn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong. He’s indulging every impulse because no one in his life has ever told him no. His parents are available for interviews where they happily air family laundry, and the dad reportedly brings boxes of swag to be autographed by Johnny for family and friends.
Normal can’t be found in the same area code where Manziel lives, and no one near him is willing to introduce him to it.
Two quotes from the same interview are so diametrically opposed in their tone and content that the confusing battle for this kid’s soul is in full view:
- “That probably is what’s getting us in trouble—wanting to be normal. We want to be just like we’ve always been, where none of this is a big deal.”
- “When we look back 20, 30 years down the road, we’re going to sit there and be like, We pretty much hung out with the f***in’ Beatles. We pretty much did everything we wanted to do.”
What he’s saying is, “I want to be normal, but being special is way too much fun!”
The shame is that Manziel could make a conscious choice to be either special or normal, but can’t.
By admitting he’s special, he moves beyond the life he has always enjoyed. By embracing the life he has always led, he denies himself the fruit of his amazing talent.
Manziel can’t have it both ways. He will either choose, or his behavior will choose for him.
Instead of talking to rap stars like Drake about how to cope with fame, he should talk to Todd Marinovich, whose life as a stud quarterback was a nightmare. He’s now a very talented artist having left football and all its trappings behind.
Manziel can be what he wants to be, but the plug must be pulled on the sideshow he’s created. His choice should be none of our business, but with every tweet and interview he creates more interest in the train wreck his life is becoming.
It’s not anger and jealousy fueling the interest in his life – it’s his inability to turn off the spigot from which this drama flows.