He burst onto the scene during his freshman season and won the Heisman Trophy on his first try. So it’s not hard to understand why college football fans are attracted to superstar sensation Johnny Manziel. But his recent actions have suggested that while he’s a football god in Texas and the SEC, at his core he’s still a whiney teenager who is still trying to grow up.
Manziel’s party habits, his fast driving and his lashing out on Twitter all point to the obvious — he’s a kid still and maybe we’re rushing in putting him on a pedestal.
Recently Manziel sent out the cry for people to get off his back that every 15 year old teenage girl throws out when life gets too hard: people just don’t understand what it’s like to be me. But while we can easily rip the young Manziel for just acting like every other teenager on the face of the earth, we might want to pump the brakes on Johnny Football and where we’re forcing his path.
As it was pointed out by USA Today’s Nick Schwartz, it’s really not that hard to be Johnny Manziel. He’s a superstar football player who is eyeing the NFL Draft, has a smoking girlfriend and get tickets to the NBA Finals and the chance to hit batting practice with professional teams. So it’s very easy to see why people can rip Manziel with little difficulty.
But the theme here is Manziel is a kid and he’s more of a child than we think — and that’s something we’re exploiting to get a cheap laugh and join the club against young success. But there’s an attachment with that young success that has existed for years before Manziel and it’s an incredibly dark place.
Young people are stupid. I know because I was young and I was stupid, as were we all. There’s a disease in the young mind that believes we’re invincible and that we’re always right. We also always need something to rebel against and nine times out of ten we’re rebelling against the wrong thing. I can’t speak on what makes Manziel’s life so hard but he’s a kid still trying to figure out who he is and he’s being thrust into a world where people think they know what is best for him and are selling his name for profit.
Let’s not forget the numerous cases of young stars who stumbled down the wrong path because they were given too much and expected so much out of. Tyrann Mathieu is the most recent example of this and the list is far longer than it should be when it comes to other examples.
So while it certainly appears Johnny Manziel is a diva, he’s not old enough for that label to stick. Most teenagers on both sides of the gender isle are divas so this really shouldn’t be coming as a surprise. But if he doesn’t grow towards a leadership role he’s going to suffer the Justin Bieber effect where there is so much sarcastic hate flung his way that we might not like where he ends up — whether that be broke, stuck in the realm of wasted potential or worse.
Manziel told us to walk a day in his shoes, and maybe we should. Maybe then we will see that with all the free NBA Finals tickets and batting practice trips, that we’ve romanticized fame so much that we’ve failed to acknowledge the pitfalls and darkness that lies within it.