It’s the game of the college football season. Texas A&M versus Alabama. Heisman Trophy-winner Johnny Manziel against BCS championship-collector Nick Saban. And still the whole wide world is focused on the Aggies’ controversial quarterback:
Let Johnny Manziel be himself
No disrespect, Johnny Manziel has Alabama’s attention
CBS will have one camera devoted to Johnny Manziel on Saturday
How much is too much Johnny Manziel? Kevin Sumlin doesn’t like “Johnny Cam” by CBS
Johnny Manziel toys with Nick Saban: Texas A&M rope-a-doping Alabama, Johnny Cam and all
Alabama bar makes Johnny Manziel pinata (Wonder how the folks at that bar would feel if another bunch of nitwits made pinatas in the image of their sons and daughters.)
Yes, it’s all Johnny, all the time. And that’s before CBS trains its Johnny Cam on the Heisman-winner and leaves it there for four hours.
But the biggest story from Tuesday was the announcement that Manziel will not be talking to the media this week. At all. Zipped lips. Hush-hush.
According to Sumlin and Texas A&M officials, the call to keep Manziel away from the mics and cameras was made by the superstar after he consulted with “his lawyers and family.” The coach added: “I’ll respect his wishes for that.”
You can bet he does. How could Manziel meeting the press be a good thing for A&M this week?
Look, I understand that media members have a job to do. This writer’s first job was working for a newspaper at 16. I was in radio before the end of high school. I was in television before the end of college. And I’ve been working on the internet for five years now (long enough to stress my once brown hair white). So I completely understand that reporters want to talk directly to the one guy everyone is talking about.
But in this case, Team Manziel has made the proper call.
Back on July 31st — the day after “ESPN The Magazine’s” inside look at the life of Johnny Football hit the web — I wrote an open letter to the Aggie quarterback. In it, four suggestions were put forth:
1. Become a hermit until after the NFL Draft (no partying, no jetsetting, just football)
2. Get back onto your therapist’s couch and stop drinking to relieve stress. 20 is a bit young to start using booze as a coping mechanism.
3. Remove yourself from Twitter (because it’s only brought you trouble to date)
4. Only deal with the media during school-sanctioned press opportunities
Ah, ha, you say. Even I said he should speak to the press on Media Day in College Station. Yes, I wrote that, but the intent was for him to cut back on media access (like inviting a reporter to play golf with him… when he’s a club-tossing, curser on the links). Also, the MrSEC.com letter was written before autograph-gate. So becoming a hermit? Yeah, it’s even more important now. Answering questions about the NCAA’s decision to suspend him for half a game could only lead to trouble. So Tip #1 — Become a hermit — now supersedes Tip #4.
Wisely, the QB has indeed gone silent. And his last tweet came the same day of our letter, on July 31st. Smart and smart. Even Sun Tzu knew that sometimes withdrawing from the battlefield is the best option.
There has been a little blowback so far. Some have suggested that by keeping silent, Manziel’s teammates will now have to answer questions about him and for him. But in all honesty, weren’t Manziel’s teammates going to be asked dozens of Manziel-related questions anyway? That’s not a very strong argument.
From a media perspective, I can see why reporters are disappointed. But from Team Manziel and Texas A&M’s perspective, I can totally understand why the quarterback won’t be talking about autographs, on-field taunts, the Manning Passing Academy, the “ESPN The Magazine” article or anything else this week.
It just goes back to the first tip we sent a month-and-a-half ago: Become a hermit.