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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

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Manziel debut sparks fluctuations in fan acceptance

 
 

At approximately 2:07 p.m. Saturday, before a sold out Kyle Field crowd that was perspiring and tiring, Texas A&M’s best football player took the field.
As 86,686 fans erupted in chants of, “Johnny! Johnny! Johnny!” Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel walked out on the field, saluting the student section.
It was just the beginning of Manziel’s day, which was cut in half by a suspension from the autograph allegations that loomed throughout fall camp. In his first play of the 2013 season, Manziel checked through his reads, tucked the ball and ran for a 12-yard gain.
“Ladies & gentleman, I give you Johnny Manziel! #GigEm #BTHOrice,” was a tweet sent just after.
After a Taylor Bertolet field goal, Manziel was once again on the field, this time driving the Aggies 34 yards down the field and passing the ball just once. After an 8-yard rush, he appeared to make a signature motion toward one of the Rice players in a highlight that has been shown on SportsCenter countless times since.
The next play, Manziel stayed in a collapsing pocket and fired a strike to Mike Evans for a touchdown.
“Johnny Manziel just air signed an autograph after one play then threw a TD and rubbed his fingers together like getting money,” another tweet read.
Manziel finished the day 6-of-8 passing for 94 yards and three touchdowns with 19 rushing yards on six carries. His day was not over, though, until an incident occurred following A&M’s final score in the fourth quarter after Manziel once again connected with Evans.
Following the touchdown, Manziel rubbed shoulders with two Rice players. As the two began jawing at each other, exchanging comments, Manziel opted to have the last laugh in a taunting gesture toward the scoreboard.
The move resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and landed Manziel a spot in head coach Kevin Sumlin’s counseling chair.
“I felt he was pressing it a little bit early, first play he missed a read but he had some good touchdown drives, good scrambles, but a foolish penalty at the end,” Sumlin said. “No matter what the comments are, he’ll be playing every week with people chirping, and [chirping back] is not okay. Obviously I addressed that on the sideline. But it’s something he’ll have to deal with every week.”
College football fans around the country had opinions that varied, but it appeared the majority had gone from excitement to frustration in record time. “I love Johnny Manziel, but he’s a leader. Now he needs to start acting like one,” another tweet read at 4:47 p.m., an hour after fans had time to think about the 52-31 win.
The best college football player from a year ago was back, but so too was his swagger.
“I felt like he represented himself with a nice swag,” said defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. “He came out and he played well. He took a few chances, but who doesn’t take chances on the football field? He came out and had fun. We got the ‘W’ and that’s what really matters.”
Debate has raged on as the hours and days have passed since Manziel’s last actions. Countless members of the media have questioned whether Manziel has become a cancer to the A&M team or if he, along with the entire Texas A&M squad, is simply college football’s villain
The mom of a boy who watched Manziel become a star at Tivy High School in Kerville wrote in a blog post titled “An Open Letter to Johnny Manziel” that she is now faced with tough questions from her sixth grade son.
“My 6th grade son teaches me a lot about life,” Beth Bates of Kerville wrote in her post. “And even after today’s game he sees redemption for you (Manziel). As I sat, as a very frustrated fan and mom, watching you trash talk and wondering if you’ve learned a single lesson lately… as I sat and told you to get the chip off your shoulder and just play … I listened to my son see the good.”
As Texas A&M prepares for it’s second game of the season Saturday against Sam Houston State, Manziel will likely be analyzed each hour of every day until he picks up another game day football.
Once he hits the grass at Kyle Field, though, he’s the player his teammates, coaches and fans remember – for better or for worse.
“That’s how he is,” said junior right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. “He is a fiery guy and that’s what we love about him. He is not quiet and he’s not shy. He is loud and aggressive and that’s what makes him Johnny Football so we love it.”

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