Welcome to the Lockr Room. Each week, former Texas A&M QB David Walker will highlight and provide insight into Aggies football.
Follow David on Twitter: @12thManQb.
Lockr Room Legends Q&A: David Walker, 12th Man QB
Johnny Football … Heisman Trophy winner …
He is the face of College Football Nation: that includes the administrators, coaches and players of colleges and universities that have chosen to field football teams. It does not include those with the gift for gab, fans who buy the tickets, writers, cameramen or any others who aren’t between the lines on game day. The others may impose their will or credentials in attempts to be part of the Nation, but it’s maintained by the schools themselves.
As displayed by Coach Kevin Sumlin last Saturday, the outsiders – yes, even ESPN – have no right to information regarding in-house affairs prior to game time. This is how insignificant the media truly is and how important the inner workings of a team are to a college coach. In fact, the media is the necessary evil of the sport, and without television it would have a very limited role to play.
Yet networks would have us believe they and their analysts own and run the game of college football. Guess what? They have nothing, repeat, nothing, to do with the games. They don’t practice or line up or suffer injuries. They only talk. They have the seemingly incurable disease of diarrhea of the mouth, joyfully expounding upon the virtues or shortcomings of those who truly belong to the Nation. Sometimes they put on funny hats. Sometimes they hold court. There are those among them who have gotten too big for their own britches and desperately need to be reined in. They actually believe it is they who create record ratings in college football. Seriously.
The real job of the television networks in question is to first coordinate with school officials the starting times of games to be televised, and shortly thereafter serve as the public’s tools. Turn the sound off, and we all agree they have mastered their craft.
When discussing the College Football Nation, other facts come to mind. Most importantly, we didn’t need a trophy presentation to tell us who the outstanding player in the country was last season. We didn’t need a debate about whether a mere redshirt freshman should be given this prestigious award. Why? We saw it with our own eyes. Coaches saw it. Opposing players who actually play the game saw it. (Many of them even said publicly it would be a travesty if Johnny did not receive it.) Fortunately the Heisman voters listened to those actually involved in the games. This was key. Perhaps they do “get it.” We won’t mention their other two candidates.
Johnny Manziel, because of his athletic skills and instincts recognizable to all who play the game, encompasses the entire shooting match of college football. He is its King until someone else clearly shows on the field he is superior to Johnny Football. This much is apparent, and the opinions of the media giants should be deemed irrelevant, unnecessary and irresponsible. They can ruin a Saturday of football because they DWELL … and DWELL … and DWELL on what we, the cable payers, have no further interest in.
When you become the face of something this huge, you’re a marked man. When you then evade incarceration after you’ve been found guilty by nothing more than public opinion, the aggression against you intensifies. You’re suddenly vilified on a level with the murderous O.J. Simpson, and, had that atrocity occurred today, it probably would be a dead heat.
Johnny Manziel is also a young guy with a quick temper who has yet to control it or see the wisdom in doing so. Temper is normally viewed as a deficiency, frowned upon in most professions. Exceptions are generally made for those within the athletic arena.
Those of us in the business world know that temper tantrums, fits of rage, admonishments to the point of others’ embarrassment, and even door slamming, aren’t viewed as the behaviors of a true professional. These instances cause humiliation and, in general, are morale killers, simply because normal people who have never been part of a competitive teamwork format haven’t experienced this, and, therefore, do not handle it very well. It isn’t the best motivational tool, you might say.
Where are one’s temper, anger, and exhibitions of frustration universally accepted and even thought to be virtuous? Military personnel, law enforcement and coaches quickly come to mind because they each work for the same goals: to train their people mentally, physically and emotionally to be at their very best, at the most critical moments, under extreme pressure. They dish it out and their best people respond. The cream then rises to the top because these leaders and instructors won’t accept anything less. They shout, “We’re only as good as our weakest player,” and they mean it with every fiber.
The professionals I’m referring to understand that showing their immediate dissatisfaction as often as is deemed necessary is not only acceptable, but a strict requirement in performing their duties. It’s a built-in trait used every day, simply because individuals will take a lazy step when given the opportunity. This is intolerable in these venues, for in these professions training under pressure is critical to the success of the organization.
Intensity levels differ in all of us; our passions aren’t the same, nor are the expectations and accompanying pressures.
We each have our own crosses to bear, but we also seem to relish the opportunity to observe how well someone else is handling his. It is worth noting that our assessments are generally harsher on others than on ourselves.
It’s the sideshow commentary that seems to sustain and feed Americans; the belittling and preaching we hear ad nauseam from our sports announcers who have risen above the crowd of mediocrity to positions of arrogance, obedience and influence. I mean, if Mark May of ESPN doesn’t like Manziel, then I shouldn’t either, right? After all, he’s the expert in the white tuxedo on TV. Sure, these commentators are only doing their jobs, which is doubly difficult when doing it from such high horses.
Johnny takes events, situations and people very personally. He has it in his head the world is against him, and my perception is he may not be far off base. It doesn’t take much these days to draw a pack of hungry wolves. This could have been averted and may still, but this is a subject for another day. As a result, Johnny seems capable of holding a grudge and remembering very well those who show loyalty and those who don’t.
He remembers those who have tried to take him down. He may possibly, on occasion, read the local forums here in town–TexAgs and AggieYell. It hasn’t been pretty, even on these boards that are supported by the membership dues of loyal A&M folks.
Perhaps when Johnny does speak with the media again, someone might ask his thoughts regarding the 12th Man crowd who make their opinions known from behind their anonymous keyboards. (The fans footing the bill inside the stadium obviously love him, as evidenced by the tremendous ovation given him before the second half.) I honestly do not pretend to know how Johnny would answer, but the 12th Man seems to be growing weary of this 6-foot meteor hurtling through their space. They aren’t accustomed to defending their players on a national stage. They aren’t accustomed to feeling like they are obligated to make excuses for any “Aggie.” They’re not accustomed to having one of their own attacked on national TV by wannabe moralists casting the first stone. Some Aggies have even tweeted that Manziel should go to Longhornsville where he belongs.
Frankly, the showering of attention this school has received is totally unprecedented, yet many are unwilling to take ownership because Johnny just doesn’t “act right” in their estimation. The “Aggies Are We” mantra seems to work only on a conditional basis at this juncture. We’re all trying to teach this kid how to do it, but he refuses to listen to anything but his headphones, so we just hammer him from our keyboards. “Dumb jock.”
Perhaps America also expected a more contrite demeanor from Manziel in the opener against our former Southwest Conference playmate, the Rice Owls. Perhaps we wanted to see him get on both knees before the game started and beg our forgiveness, instead of just thanking God for another season of football.
You see, Johnny has been through some well-chronicled ordeals over the past eight months. For these incidences he has been pounded hard by the media and all the football fans and college students in this country. Why? Because they can–even as they practice their own air autographing, which is as close to the real thing as they’ll ever get.
The social media miracles of Twitter and Facebook, and the addition of countless bloggers from bathrooms somewhere in Podunk who have learned how to effectively tag their pieces, now allow anyone the platform to zero in, and perhaps even be read. It’s gotten to the point that we look at which organization is publishing the article before we even open it – or post it. I certainly do, so as not to waste my time. It has everything to do with credibility, and sometimes even the big shots lose theirs. In the end, it’s ourselves we’re seeing reflections of.
We spew forth accusations and insults that we, ourselves, are guilty of. We repeat what we hear on TV as though we are still little children watching cartoons. When we hide our identities behind made-up usernames, we are free to speak our minds in whatever context we choose and say things that would be shameful and embarrassing if said face to face. We have no consequences to our online hatred. Man, it’s just fun!
@jmanziel2 doesn’t have this luxury, nor would he want it.
We forget the sports world first met Johnny the morning after he’d been fighting. Does this tell you anything about the kid? Does me. I also believe we have thousands of analysts out there now who don’t have the slightest clue about what’s going on inside this young man’s head. He’s not talking, which leaves us only the “experts’” speculations to assimilate. Pardon this, while you’re at it.
I find it humorous that almost every single player mentioned on television this weekend was a “Heisman Trophy candidate.” They’re building a whole library now of “Heisman Trophy candidates.” Apparently there’s one on every college football team. Some teams are even professed to have four or five! The Heisman War is ON!
The media, with all its heart, wants to crown a new King, while unwittingly, perhaps, making everyone else’s role in the game insignificant. This is the real tragedy for America’s football players and their fans. It’s not Johnny, but the reaction of the media networks that is criminal. “Show me the Money” is now “Show me your Heisman.” Based on the media’s attitudes and recent actions, anything less apparently doesn’t merit mentioning.
First-team All-Conference? Get in line. You’re currently way, way down the pecking order. Sorry, bud.
But as they say on game shows, “Thanks for playing.”