Meet the press
Manziel has super-human stats, normal persona
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 18:11
For two consecutive afternoons the national sports scene — including ESPN and Sports Illustrated — held its breath in eager anticipation, focusing absolute attention upon the quaint town of College Station, Texas. They wanted an answer to a simple question.
Who exactly is “Johnny Football?”
It was one of the best and worst kept secrets in college football. As a freshman under Kevin Sumlin’s media policy, the 19-soon-to-be-20-year-old quarterback, Johnny Manziel, could not speak to media — at least not with his voice. What the youthful gunslinger did do was take the college football world by storm with magical, and sometimes unimaginable, on-field performances.
Though in his Tuesday press conference debut, and with utmost humility, Manziel was quick to credit his fellow players.
“The individual success that I’ve had, the records that have been broken — without my teammates none of that would’ve been possible,” Manziel said. “Our team success is us coming to together as a unit and because of that, I get the chance to get up here when there could be five linemen up here.”
Still, the media attention remains upon A&M’s beloved signal caller.
For weeks, comparisons were drawn as sports writers and fans deliberated who Manziel most resembled. Legendary names surfaced of days of yore — the likes of Doug Flutie, Fran Tarkenton and Brett Favre — among others.
Johnny Football became a national sensation. His uniquely endearing style of play and knack for making everything out of nothing piqued the curiosity of football fans everywhere. Whether he ran in circles around the Arkansas defense, raced past defensive backs for game-winning touchdowns or caught his own fumble and — somehow — darted a perfect pass to a receiver in the back of the end zone against the infamous Crimson Tide defense, Manziel mesmerized his audiences.
Then there are the statistics.
Manziel’s 4,600 total yards and 43 touchdowns to only eight interceptions are video game numbers. Gamers would be hard pressed to match those statistics with custom-made NCAA football players complimented with the highest possible attributes. He blows SEC Heisman winners Tim Tebow and Cam Newton out of the water and broke the SEC total season yardage record — previously held by Newton — in two fewer games. He’s the fastest player in college football history to reach 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season and the only freshman in college football history to ever do so.
In the words of LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery: “Heisman. Give it to him.”
But what Manziel revealed Monday and Tuesday, granting his first words ever to the press, is that he doesn’t believe he’s the superhero everyone makes him out to be. He indicated that he’s, instead, pretty normal.
“I really don’t see myself as the ‘Johnny Football’ craze that’s kind of swept Aggieland and the nation. I see myself as Johnny Manziel,” he said. “I’m a guy from Kerrville, Texas just trying to be a laid back guy who likes to hang out with friends and be a normal college student just like anybody else.”
In only a matter of days, however, Johnny Football will likely transform to “Johnny Heisman.” Fans and media will be forever endeared.
What might never change, trophy or not, is Manziel’s perspective of himself. Johnny will be — well — Johnny.
About the experience, Manziel wasn’t shy to give his thoughts.
“It’s a dream come true.”