OPINION: Johnny (will play) Football
An angry Manziel wins games and Heismans. So strap in.
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 00:08
I want nothing more than to write about football — the real kind that happens between the sidelines, with the maroon and white, with towels, sweat and hoarse voices.
So you’ll have to forgive me for refraining from diving into the Olympic-sized pool of NCAA-related columns of the last day-plus, ever since a “joint statement” from the NCAA and Texas A&M slapped The Chosen One on the wrist for a violation of the “spirit” of some bylaw or another.
When we start talking about the “spirit” of anything the NCAA scrapes off its shoe, that’s my cue to leave.
The NCAA and ESPN lost and many others won but, really, only one entity walks away without the situation’s stink on its clothes: the 12th Man — you, me and those sophomores with the obnoxious wildcat. The game of the year, A&M-Alabama, is back on, and it’s coming to our Kyle Field living room. The world will watch and we’ll have the best seats in the house.
We have work to do, though. We’ve made College Station toxic for the Manziels. If Johnny doesn’t have a historic precedent, we as fans certainly don’t have one in Aggieland. We’re a win-starved, former Big 12 also-ran with a nutso-crazy fan base (of which I’m a part, I should add), then all of a sudden we’re in the SEC and I’m telling people I expect seven wins in 2012 and that sounds crazily optimistic and then HOLY CRAP IS THIS THE SAME GUY THAT GOT ARRESTED?
We haven’t slowed down to catch our breath since. Neither has he. Maybe that’s the problem.
I think he knowingly broke the rules and I know he hasn’t been the Tebow-esque altar boy you might have wanted, but he’s our quarterback. Give him room to breathe.
C.S. Lewis said this: “You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong.”
Have we shown he is wrong? Slow down, A&M. You would be bored if Johnny wasn’t Johnny. When you mob-stomp him online, you risk scaring him off Twitter. And then we all lose.
If it turns out he’s just been a human being this whole time — rather than the super-villain he’s made out to be — and does again what this particular human being did last year (that is, make Verne Lundquist’s voice crack on the way to a mess of wins and a bigger mess of touchdowns), we’ll say he learned his lesson from his beer-and-skittles offseason. And future athletes will take a stab at emulating this guy.
The nation liked what A&M did last year so much it snapped up our resident five o’clock shadow, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. It drafted the best tackle in A&M history No. 2 overall in the NFL draft. And it caught onto the simple fact Aggies learned around week four last season: Johnny Manziel is the most interesting player we’ve ever seen, both on and off the field.
One season in the SEC made our coordinator a sex symbol and gave him a head-coaching job. It gave our head coach an honorary WWE championship belt and a (rumored) handful of head coaching offers at all levels.
And it made our wily little quarterback the most famous amateur athlete in history. What could this team do for an encore? It could win.
If A&M becomes what the voters are hinting at, with a beefier Manziel, a still-stout offensive line, leadership in the secondary and a platoon of scorching-fast running backs and receivers — that’s the best team in the country.
That team beats Alabama, goes to Death Valley at night and tops LSU and puts away Ole Miss in what every trendy analyst calls a “trap game.”
We might not see that team. There are questions, and Saturday won’t answer all of them. But cannons will fire and Kanye’s “Power” will lead our team onto the field (including, despite the odds, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner). That’s enough for me.
Manziel hasn’t had a chance to write his own headlines since the Cotton Bowl. He’s pissed, and a chip-on-the-shoulder Manziel has never done anything but create must-see football.
Manziel and the University still need each other, despite what either camp might think. One season in the SEC doesn’t nail down recruiting powerhouse status. The NFL can and will overlook Johnny’s size, but if he enters the draft with character issues clouding his stock, he’ll slip. He can’t afford that. As an undersized quarterback, his rookie contract could easily be his last.
It’s in the best interests of everyone with money in the pot (the networks, ESPN, A&M, the NFL, Manziel, the NCAA) for A&M to win football games with Manziel behind center.
And that’s great news for us here in Aggieland. We get to sit back and watch.