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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Column: Media monster

Together – you and I – we have created a monster. Like the careful construction of Frankenstein, we have taken Jonathan Paul Manziel and turned him into Johnny Football – the most talked about figure in collegiate sports.
No need for a history lesson. Manziel’s meteoric rise – from a virtual unknown to a Heisman Trophy winner to a national celebrity, all in less than a calendar year – has been well documented.
But it hasn’t just been his play on the field that has captured the interest of thousands across the nation. His actions off of it have contributed as well.
In a generation where social media dominates offseason athletics, fans and media personalities alike have the opportunity to take a closer look into the lives of stars such as Manziel. A simple Instagram picture now has the ability to turn him from hero to villain and back.
With each concert Manziel attended and each celebrity he met, social media culture and its craze for minute-by-minute information forced him into the limelight.
It was only a matter of time before Johnny Football’s carefree offseason attitude clashed with that of his more than 300,000 followers.
“A lot of people are complaining, saying [Manziel’s] got to do this, he’s got to do that,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said in February. “Who’s to say how he’s supposed to react? It’s never been done before. How do you know how he’s supposed to react? Have you ever been in his shoes? He’s the first.”
As the first freshman to win college football’s most-coveted individual honor, Manziel had a story surrounding him each week of the offseason. Media members entrenched themselves within the confines of the ever-evolving story and, with the help of social media tools, have exposed aspects of his personal life.
Just last week Andre Ware – the 1989 Heisman Trophy winner and a Texas born quarterback for Houston – took to ESPN’s College Football Live show to pick Manziel apart.
“Tone it down,” Ware said when asked about how Manziel conducted himself off the field this offseason. “You’re not the same guy you were before you won the Heisman Trophy. There’s a responsibility that comes with it to not only yourself and the Texas A&M program but for past Heisman winners as well.”
Surely Ware doesn’t think Manziel’s transgressions are as bad as those Heisman winners before him. Auburn’s Cam Newton was accused of taking money from boosters and USC’s O.J. Simpson is in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping.
Comments like Ware’s have driven Manziel away from his Twitter account and the classrooms of Texas A&M’s campus. He has even explored the idea of a personal media ban similar to the one Sumlin imposed on him as a freshman.
Things were easier then, I’m sure. With media critics waiting to attack his every action, can you blame him?
Despite his antics during the offseason, Manziel has shown maturity with these decisions. The media’s interest in Johnny Football spiked the quarterback’s ascent in the social media realm, but it was Manziel who found the maturity to take a break from Twitter. Instead of Sumlin forcing a ban on him, he was able to detox on his own.
To make that decision shows he has learned something along the way. Manziel has emerged as the leader of this Texas A&M football team and his role begins with eliminating distractions and focusing on football.
For the first time in school history, the annual Maroon and White spring scrimmage will be aired in front of a national audience on ESPN this Saturday. All signs point to A&M securing a Top 5 preseason ranking and Manziel as the favorite to defend his Heisman Trophy.
With the spotlight and our undivided attention once again shining bright on Manziel, let’s encourage A&M’s star to continue to find his footing as a team leader. Despite the negativity thrown Manziel’s way, despite every doubter, the time for A&M to become a national powerhouse football program is now.

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