Speaking at the Southeastern Conference media day today, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel spoke about the difficulty of living life in the spotlight. The media attention he is seemingly always receiving caused Manziel, also known as Johnny Football, to compare himself to another scrutinized celebrity, Justin Bieber.
An example of recent behavior that resulted in negative headlines was his previously mysterious disappearance from the Manning Passing Academy, where he left for ‘dehydration’ purposes. He informed us today that he left the camp after missing a meeting due to oversleeping.
“[There are] a lot of rumors out there, a lot of talk. I missed a meeting, phone died, I overslept,” Manziel said to put the issue to rest. He declined to go into detail as to whether or not alcohol use was a factor in his oversleeping.
After an off-season mired in controversial decisions, Manziel has learned a lot about life as a celebrity heading into his sophomore season with the Aggies. “The spotlight is 10 times brighter and 10 times hotter than I thought it was two months ago,” Manziel said. “I guess I feel like Justin Bieber or something. I never thought it would really be that way.
According to both Manziel and his coach Kevin Sumlin, unlike Justin Bieber perhaps Manziel is attempting to change his ways. When asked about Johnny Football’s decision making over the past months, he answered “can he be better in that area? Certainly. And that’s something that we’re working on.”
Those that critique the behavior of young stars such as Johnny Manziel and Justin Bieber forget that these are still young men who are going to make mistakes. Manziel is just 20 years old, an age where many of us made the same mistakes he is making. Manziel pointed that out in his SEC media day by explaining that:
“I’m still a sophomore in college, I’m still going to do things that everybody in college does and I’m going to continue to enjoy my life. Hopefully people don’t hold me to a higher standard than that.”
The only problem in his logic is that he is a star athlete, a role model for young children. Of course he is held to a higher standard. That comes with the spotlight. Johnny Manziel, like Justin Bieber, is going to have to learn that lesson and adjust.
Although the follow up statement Manziel made is correct, he has to learn from the result of his mistakes if he wants to avoid the wrath of the media moving forward. “I feel like, to be honest, I haven’t done anything criminal this offseason. I haven’t done anything like that. I’ve made my mistakes. I’m still growing up. I’m still learning from that.”
Perhaps he needs to take a page out of Jadeveon Clowney’s book and stay away from the media for awhile. A lesson Manziel acknowledged he is learning. “Going back and bickering with people on Twitter, as much as it might make you feel better, it doesn’t really get anything done” he said about interacting with fans on social media.
Johnny Manziel is not entirely wrong in comparing himself to Justin Bieber. Although Manziel probably doesn’t want to be known as the Bieber of football, that wouldn’t exactly be the most intimidating nickname to have, it is a relatively accurate comparison. Both are struggling to stay out of the headlines as a result of their behavior away from work, and both have proven incredibly successful when they are on stage at this early point in their careers.
Unlike Bieber, Johnny Manziel does not have a contract. Being a student athlete, he will have to learn to control his behavior and avoid headlines quickly if he does not want to scare off potential NFL suitors.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express