1. We’re talking about the most exciting college football player since Michael Vick.
With all apologies to Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson and RGIII — this isn’t even up for argument. The kid from Kerrville is the most thrilling player we’ve seen in over a decade.
2. He’s sooooooo easy to hate.
He’s oil rich, sits courtside, flies on private jets, plays golf at Pebble Beach, drives a Mercedes, rocks a gold Rolex, dumped a model and hangs out with Rick Ross, Drake, LeBron and Megan Fox. Your life sucks compared to his. Even if you don’t like this guy, football is more fun when you have someone to root AGAINST.
3. He’s sooooooo much fun to watch.
Before that infamous game in Tuscaloosa last season that catapulted Manziel to the Heisman, analysts were wondering if Alabama’s talented squad could beat an NFL team. Johnny Football made them look silly — and slow.
4. Seriously, he makes plays that only happen in video games.
The scary thing is he breaks runs like this 5-10 times per game.
5. He’s the most accomplished sophomore college football player ever.
I cannot overstate how insanely impressive it is that he won the Heisman as a freshman. This is not college basketball where freshmen are the most talented players on the court. College football is a man’s game, and Manziel simply dominated — throwing for 26 touchdowns and running for 21 more in the toughest conference in the nation. His dad famously said in Wright Thompson’s brilliant ESPN the Mag profile on Manziel that Johnny “ate Skittles, drank beer and won the Heisman.” What’s going to happen when he’s fueled by vengeance in addition to the candy and booze?
6. Yet he’s still somehow an underdog.
WAIT! Hear me out. Despite putting up absolutely mind-blowing numbers during his junior and senior years in high school Jonathan Manziel wasn’t even offered the chance to play quarterback at the University of Texas — they wanted him to play defensive back. Manziel is listed as an embellished 6-foot-1 in the Texas A&M program, which is deemed too small to play quarterback in Division I football — let alone the NFL. He could win another Heisman this season and STILL have legions of doubters.
7. He’s the anti-Tim Tebow…
The last time a college football player received this kind of media attention it wore thin pretty quickly. Tim Tebow was everyone’s All-American — an inspiring leader, a hard-nosed football player and someone your mom would call “a very nice boy.” But he didn’t actually do anything extraordinary except thank God an extraordinary amount of times. He ran like a fullback and his throwing motion was and is gooberish. Manziel is the exact opposite.
8. Both on the field…
Tebow made a habit of extending plays — Manziel breaks plays. He makes you sit on the edge of your seat even on 3rd and long. Tebow was a bull, and effective. Manziel is reckless, yet brilliant.
9. And off it.
Speaking of reckless, this is what Johnny Football is known for — to quote fellow Texas legend David Wooderson — L-I-V-I-N. I mean holy shit does this kid like to party. Tim Tebow didn’t drink or have sex. By all accounts Johnny Football enjoys both of those vices — like most normal college students.
10. Johnny Manziel is normal.
Take away the Heisman. Take away the fame. Take away the money. What does Manziel like to do? Party with his friends. He likes to get drunk like you. He went to Mardi Gras because that seemed like fun. He went to Cabo for Spring Break because bikinis and drinking legally.
11. But much of his life off the field is already a huge drag.
His family has to employ a bodyguard for him on his own campus. He needs a police escort to take him from the stadium to his house after games. Every time he makes a misstep some anonymous NFL scout crops up to tell a writer that he’s a punk who’ll never make it in the League. Yes, there are worse problems to have in life, and Manziel has been dealt a one-in-a-million hand of cards, but come on.
12. He’s loyal — to a fault.
Not many Heisman trophy winners prefaced their season with a shirtless mugshot. During the summer of 2012, Manziel was arrested for having a fake I.D. — he was trying to separate a fight between an Aggie teammate and a 47-year-old man when the cops came. He was playing peacemaker. Manziel’s need to please has been a constant source of problems, especially in the case of his friend/manager/designated driver Nate Fitch. Uncle Nate takes care of Johnny Football’s day-to-day life, which includes these alleged autograph signing sessions that ESPN’s Outside the Lines has been reporting on — the allegations that may end in the loss of his eligibility. Despite his well-publicized issues with College Station he remains set on leading the Aggies to a championship and flashes the Gig ‘em hand gesture in almost every picture.
13. For all his exposure he’s still a complete wildcard as a player.
We have no idea how he’ll respond if he’s allowed to play this season. His unpredictable style could result in a career-altering injury. His SEC rivals could figure out a way to slow and maybe even stop him. He could buckle under the pressure and throw 25 interceptions. But what if he gets better?
14. Without him this NCAA season will be a snoozefest.
Want to see Nick Saban and Alabama win a third straight national championship? Then you must be from Alabama, an alumnus or fucking boring because no one wants to see that man win another title.
15. We need to see how this story ends.
Honestly, if Manziel gets suspended for his sophomore season, it might be the biggest cockblock in sports history. The kid is confident — that much we know — but now the expectation is perfection. If his Heisman-winning freshman year was the first act, his hilarious/sad/overblown off-season was the second, then how is he going to end this play — tragically or triumphantly? It’d be a shame not to find out.