Phase No. 1: Baptize in Privilege
Begin his story in a hospital. A nice one with spacious rooms; each holding plexiglass windows the size of an amphitheater. Give it a cafeteria with a backlog of kale, side dishes low in cholesterol – the kind their predominantly white patrons are fond of. Paint the nurseries in candy colors and the newly minted parents in assorted shades of spite.
This place isn’t supposed be endearing. Swap the damaged and helpless for the entitled – those carrying noblesse oblige like a burden.
Put him in a city where the capitalism smells as strong as the roses. Better yet, give this place more woody perennials than any other community in the country. Smell them through your keyboard.
Let them be his first smell – this is important, indulgence in luxury will be his epithet, his framework. Name him something biblical. Name him after one of the noblest and most heroic figures in the bible, Jonathan.
His friends will call him Johnny.
House him in an affluent neighborhood. Build the walls into the clouds like a contemporary Jack and the Beanstalk. Expand the foundation of the home till you cannot count the acres. Raise him there. Provide him an heirloom. Better yet, give his parents an inheritance coated in black gold – wildcatting, specifically – a tycoon reeking of business magnates, castigating barons, and southern trimming.
Watch the viscous heritage of his forefathers drip into his crib.
Before he learns to walk, offer him a helmet and a leather ball for Christmas. Show him how to use both; how to clutch the hide like a severance package he’ll never be forced to face; how to position and fasten the protective cage around his skull. Teach him how to cock the sphere behind his neck and drive it forward. Repeat daily for 14 years.
Phase No. 2: Layer with Success
Station the boy in Kerrville Independent School District and watch him grow. His success in the classroom complements his 31-inch vertical jump, 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and 225-pound bench press nicely. On a team absent football tradition, watch him move into the varsity rotation by the end of his freshman year.
By the fourth game of his sophomore season, move him from receiver to quarterback.
Observe as he shines, shouldering a team’s potential as a teen.
Vote him the top offensive player in San Antonio and the MVP of his district as a junior. Impart praise upon him:
He is a spectacular high school football player. He’s the best playmaking quarterback I’ve seen in my years (44) of coaching.
There’s nobody out there like him.
He’s probably the best playmaker I’ve ever seen. We faced Matt Stafford (No. 1 NFL draft pick by the Detroit Lions) when I was at Stephenville and Johnny is a lot tougher to deal with. I feel like the Manziel kid can do everything.
He’s Brett Favre on a motorcycle.
The best quarterback I’ve ever seen play high school football.
He is a folk hero around here.
Think about that final clause: folk hero. This salient characteristic often provides everlasting commemoration. Recall that many in this category live outside the law in some way. Dismiss this thought as unimportant.
Once you’ve sifted through the eleven full-ride scholarships he receives, listen as he commits to the University of Oregon prior to his senior season. Watch as Tom Rossley, the quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M, coaxes him on devotion to his home state. Enemies form on the campuses of the ten schools tasting denial. Pay them no mind.
Imagine what his senior season will look like. Then watch it unfold.
Witness him dismantle an entire state: win his second consecutive District 27-4A MVP, Class 4A First Team All-State (AP), San Antonio Express-News Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row, the Associated Press Sports Editors Texas Player of the Year, No. 1 QB in Texas by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, DCTF Top 300, PrepStar All-Region, Super-Prep All-Region, Parade All-American, and The National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Senior Athlete of the Year in football.
Despite this, you view his demeanor changing as ESPN ranks him the 78th best quarterback of his class, and Rivals affixes a three-star ranking to the boy. After they throw away the trophies overflowing the room designed to hold said trophies, observe his parents dropping him off in College Station.