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Will Johnny Manziel's off-season antics hurt him?

July 18, 2013
  • Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel talks to reporters Wednesday during SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel talks to reporters Wednesday… (Dave Martin / Associated…)

Last fall Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. Since then, however, his off-field behavior has taken over the spotlight.

Writers from around Tribune Co. will discuss whether Johnny Football will be hurt by his off-season antics.

David Teel, Newport News Daily Press

Keyboard jockeys with Budweiser bellies won’t determine whether Johnny Manziel’s oft-chronicled off-season eroded his skills or credibility with teammates and coaches. Training camp will.

Are Manziel’s pre-snap reads as precise? Does he still have the sixth sense that tells him whether to run or pass? Are his feet as quick, his arm as strong? What of his command of the playbook and presence in Texas A&M’s huddle?

The searing heat of August, the expectations that follow Heisman Trophy winners and the scrutiny that Manziel often invites with his pop-star visibility and unfiltered tweets will provide the answers.

Those answers may not be evident to outsiders until the Aggies encounter Alabama on Sept. 14, but those in A&M’s locker room will know long before.

[Updated at 10:17 a.m. July 18:

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Nationally, Johnny Manziel is an embarrassment, comparing himself woefully to pop star Justin Bieber with his newfound fame.

He left the Manning Passing Camp last weekend, passing up a chance to receive mentorship from the best. He also recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from an altercation last summer. Like many 20-year-olds, he’s run into some self-inflicted problems with Twitter too.

But while Manziel is catching heat for his misbehavior, that will dissipate with his first touchdown pass.

College Station will embrace him and -- more importantly -- keep him in a warm cocoon of positive ego-boosting that comes along with being a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.

By the end of the season he’ll be talking about how he “overcame” all this controversy and scandal.

So will his off-season antics hurt him?

Not on the field.

And after a time or two on the field, all of his silly comments will be forgotten too.]

[Updated at 12:08 p.m.:

Mike Hiserman, Los Angeles Times

Those who play hard and train hard are supposed to rest hard. Johnny Manziel has not rested hard, but he won’t be hurt by his off-season antics. He will be hurt only if he is not physically prepared for the rigors of football and competing in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist, what 20-year-old doesn’t occasionally say the wrong thing, rip off a couple of inappropriate tweets or party a little too hard? We know about Manziel’s bobbles only because he happens to be a 20-year-old with a Heisman Trophy on his mantel.

Texas A&M fans can hope that the criticism Manziel has now taken will sharpen his focus and resolve before practice starts. What kind of shape he shows up in and how he performs out of the gate will reveal how much, if at all, he’s been hurt. Will he be as quick? Will his reads be spot on? Those are the things his teammates and coaches care about.

Manziel’s play at quarterback will need to be better than it was last season in order for him, and his team, to enjoy the same kind of success. He’s now a marked man -- in public this summer and especially on the field next fall.]


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