Today’s July 29, 2013 edition of Bleacher Report has seven out of ten top stories lamenting this weekend’s activities of the exuberant, effervescent, ever-consistent Johnny Manziel. To the delight of fun-loving Aggie football fans who are living vicariously through this 20-year-old willful recalcitrant, the good news is that seven out of ten top stories are on Johnny Football! The latest edition of controversy surrounds Manziel attending at least two frat parties in Austin, one of which he was reportedly asked to leave, with photos and video all across YouTube.
One video with him in the pink shirt posted by Trending Sports has R-rated language but 22,753 views in a day, and then YouTube userMarshall Perry Curry Shoff’s video of the same incident has 2,175,479 views in just 48 hours online. At the other party, UT Fiji Islanders threw on Saturday, he sported a Tim Tebow shirt, backwards baseball cap and sunglasses, and visited with friends old and new, while standing on concrete cluttered with discarded beer cans. Happy Heisman hunting days indeed (Twitter photo by Haley Spotts) .
The bad news, for those among Aggie sports fans who realize that the team involves a multitude of talented (other) players, who actually spend the off season in the weight room, working out, going to class, and even donating time to the community, is that seven out of ten top stories are on Johnny Football! No matter how you look at it, young Manziel, not an adult legally yet, is living large and in charge, likely contributing to the number of aspirin bottles atop Aggie Athletics office desks in some circles.
It’s a no-win media circus that will never, seemingly, end, courtesy of a highly likeable youngster who faces media scrutiny on a daily basis from journalistic and sensationalistic outlets across the country, simply to find out “what’s Johnny going to do next?” There’s always an expectation of a new episode to report of egregiously indecorous behavior, situations, attitudes, or—heaven forbid—a timely tweet on Twitter, that keeps the publicity machine churning at Texas A&M. Is that a good thing? If you also check out the two highly offensive new anime videos that both focus on making fun of Manziel, there’s another international element of PR gone bad, bad, bad.
From the university’s standpoint, they seem to be holding fast to a philosophy that “we don’t care what you say about us, just spell our name right!” Or perhaps they are all sitting in a big conference room with coffee pots baking on the warmers, the write-on, wipe-off board filled with circles, arrows, and paragraphs of scenarios (with apologies to Arlo Guthrie), and everyone is looking to new Athletic Department Media Czar, Jason Cook, asking “what next? What do we do? What should we say?” The answer is a resounding amount of silence from the Aggie PR-pros, who really, really, really should have stepped in by now and fixed this situation.
If you were helping Johnny write his “what I did on my summer vacation” essay, and given that you don’t pick up a lot of grammar skills in those online classes when you click box A, B, C, or D, you’d probably want to pause and consider what’s been happening.
You really don’t have to do a full summer retrospective. Let’s just look at…oh well, let’s just not and say we did. Texas A&M athletics department officials have said a resounding big fat nothing, apparently, “to Johnny” and they just chortle halfway embarrassed when quizzed about their young upstart wunderkind.
Yes, it’s all over the internet, about Johnny Football and his latest escapades, and all the good ol’ Ags will join together and mumble, “he’s just a kid, leave him alone; he’s a 20-year-old doing normal college kid stuff” and “he can’t help it, if the media keeps following him around, blahblahblah.” The answer is patently clear: Texas A&M will enjoy the free PR ride as long as they can. Football season begins in exactly 30 days. And, after this season of games, young Mr. Manziel can be free to enjoy his life outside of today’s surreal limelight because he hopes to join a group of elite athletes known as football professionals who will most surely welcome him with open arms.
And yet, the greatest tragedy of all, is that a most talented and gracious young man, Ryan Swope, last week made an announcement that he was forgoing an opportunity to play professional ball for now, due to health concerns after he’d suffered multiple concussions during his college career. And, he’s coming back to Texas A&M to finish his degree. Where’s his parade?
Where’s the hero’s welcome home, that might include Texas A&M perhaps endowing a scholarship in Ryan Swope’s name in appreciation for catching all the footballs he did all those years? Maybe name one of the rooms in the megafacility now underway for Ryan Swope? No, just a few months ago, before the draft, they worked like mad to get the word out to get his face on the cover of a publication, but what do they want to do for him now, when he can no longer be of any service to their big, bright public image?
Their silence is deafening showing appreciation for Ryan Swope. Their silence is equally deafening in showing any concern about the image of Texas A&M’s “other players” or the feelings, self-respect and school pride while the team of Barnum, Bailey, and Manziel continues to hold forth. The more things change, the more they stay the same.