Johnny Football can't handle rush of fame

Heisman winner Manziel struggles with missteps

The Heisman Trophy hits the scales at 45 pounds. Johnny Manziel, last season's winner, is struggling to lift it up.

Manziel is wobbling under the weight of the annoyances he creates, unable or unwilling to deal with the responsibility of being the face of college football.

He has Tim Tebow as a metaphorical spotter, but he obviously didn't learn how to conduct himself from the Gators' 2007 recipient.

Manziel has struck an unflattering Heisman pose, stiff-arming common sense. Maybe emulating Tebow doesn't matter to the Texas A&M quarterback and overnight sensation nicknamed "Johnny Football," considering he's acting like any other boorish, spoiled 20-year-old.

He has been making some rather un-Heisman-like headlines this offseason:

• Manziel Story Heading For Nightmare (Atlanta Journal Constitution).

• Johnny Manziel Can Only Blame Johnny Look At Me For Troubles (Sporting News).

• Johnny Manziel Tweets He's Unhappy Playing College Football. (UPI).

Manziel already has made it through the hardest part of his terrific tale, surprisingly capturing the Aggies' starting job and the nation's fascination as Peter Pan in cleats.

The rest should have been easy.

Not even Miss Utah could mess this up.

Manziel has found a way. Beating Alabama and Oklahoma wasn't a problem, but he can't quite handle the rush of fame.

His latest implosion was a Tweet he sent a week ago that read, ". . . Tonight is a reason I can't wait to leave college station..whenever that maybe."

College Station, Texas is home of Manziel's Aggies, where everybody worships Johnny Football. Apparently, at the time, he was upset because he got a parking ticket.

Yeah, but I'm Johnny Football! Didn't work for Reese Witherspoon.

Manziel quickly deleted the Tweet. Unbelievably, he made it worse with his next Tweet: "Don't ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes."

Walk in his shoes? Oh, the humanity. What college kid wouldn't want to be the star quarterback who regularly rubs elbows with celebrities?

Manziel practically never missed a photo op after winning the Heisman, watching the NBA Finals from courtside seats, taking BP with the Padres and hanging out with hip-hop stars. Everyone would enjoy living out those fantasies, but now Manziel is lamenting his life in the fishbowl after demanding our attention.

Manziel has made other misguided missteps. A night after the Cotton Bowl, he posted a picture of himself on Instagram fanning cash at an Oklahoma casino.

He has to be smarter, realizing the Twitterverse overacts so the mainstream media overacts, meaning all molehills are mountains.

His only serious incident occurred a year ago, when he was arrested for disorderly conduct and possessing two fake IDs. Texas A&M suspended him briefly for the 2012 season, but the punishment was overturned on appeal, allowing the Johnny Football story to unfold.

Most of Manziel's shenanigans can be chalked up to immaturity, collegians acting like pros and the bane of social media. Unless you are the reigning Heisman winner, that is.

Then everything is about appearance. The trophy has always suggested that the recipient carry himself like royalty. More is expected from him than, say, the guy who wins the KFC Coke Zero ZzzQuil Long Snapper Award.

The first line in Downtown Athletic Club's mission statement reads, "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."

Usually, the integrity thing doesn't come into question until after a Heisman winner leaves campus (Reggie Bush), although Cam Newton overcame controversy throughout his candidacy (and landslide win).

Maybe Johnny Football has gone from darling to diva. Maybe he can't wait to get to the NFL. Maybe he's gotten too big for College Station. It just would be a shame if he doesn't turn his Heisman experience into something uplifting.

bschmitz@tribune.com.

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