Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel faces an opponent more overwhelming than any SEC defense these next few months — fame.
Brent Zwerneman of The San Antonio Express-News reported late Sunday night that Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman arranged a meeting with Manziel’s parents to discuss the quarterback’s off-field behavior.
Manziel has been on a headline-grabbing whirlwind tour since claiming the Heisman last month. Because of his transcendent style of play and natural charisma, Manziel has commanded more attention than usual.
He appeared on both The Tonight Show and The Late Show. He spent time at a children’s hospital in Connecticut. He also popped up courtside at a Dallas Mavericks-Miami Heat game, prompting tongue-in-cheeks from TNT analyst Steve Kerr about NCAA compliance.
But other Manziel public appearances of late haven’t been treated so jovially. Photos of Manziel partying with a champagne bottle and more still of him waving handfuls of cash at an Oklahoma casino surfaced on Instagram.
The Express-News reports, “His parents were present [at the party where Manziel was shown with champagne], [TMZ] later reported, and no one saw the 20-year-old drink.”
Manziel, 20, also meets the legal age requirement for gambling in Oklahoma, which is 18. But both are understandable matters of concern for Hyman.
Manziel was arrested in an incident last summer wherein the freshman was reportedly drunk. The arrest seemingly gave Jameill Showers the inside track on replacing Ryan Tannehill as the Aggies’ starting quarterback, but Manziel won out just weeks before Week 1.
Gambling is another tenuous issue for college sports, one the NCAA would likely prefer not involving the face of its most lucrative outlet, football.
The unusual amount of attention being paid to Manziel will draw added scrutiny. Hyman is taken necessary precautions both for Texas A&M athletics, and Manziel.
The spotlight is both rewarding and unforgiving. Manziel is unlikely to lay in the street with a copy of Sports Illustrated a la Joe Kane from the 1993 drama The Program. Still, the thematic elements of a young man dealing with copious pressure and fame are comparable, and real.
The quarterback first addressed media in November, the end of a months-long gag order head coach Kevin Sumlin instituted. Among the many topics he addressed was his June arrest, albeit implicitly. He spoke of becoming “a home body,” and spending more time out of the public eye.
As the winter months progress and plans for the 2013 season begin, that might be Manziel’s best policy.