After watching Jim McMahon struggle to complete sentences on TV the other night, I’m having a tough time mustering up any outrage over Johnny Manziel’s failure to show contrition, humility, etc. yesterday against Rice. Given the possibility Manziel will have difficulty walking and/or possess little short memory in a quarter century, what reasonable person would begrudge his getting laid and paid by any means necessary while he still can?
Of course, “reasonable” is not the first word that comes to mind when surveying the grandstand-y oeuvre of former Chicago Sun-Times columnist turned blogger/podcaster Jay Mariotti. While Jay at the very least recognizes that A&M and the NCAA have proven impotent when it comes to Manziel (“the most egregious snafu yet for president Mark Emmert and his people, who now seem to have no purpose but to bank billions and let everyone in the kingdom cheat his ass off”), he’s quite comfortable holding the sophomore QB to a standard he might not measure up to himself.
Manziel rubbed his legal victory into the collective face of those who care about whatever dignity is left in college football. He made the money-rub sign twice. He pretended to sign an autograph when a Rice defender taunted him. When he pointed at the scoreboard in the fourth quarter during another verbal set-off with Rice defenders, he finally was pulled from the game by his coach and enabler at Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin.
It’s up to Sumlin to keep monitoring him, penalizing him. But does he have any leverage when Manziel breezes right by him on the sideline, even appearing to bump his coach after leaving the field? “God dang it, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in my life,” Sumlin yelled at Manziel, who ignored the words. Sumlin really should suspend him the next game, against Sam Houston State, so that his equilibrium might be in gear for the epic Alabama rematch on Sept. 14. But as long as the Texas A&M chancellor is declaring Manziel innocent in the autograph case without even bothering to interview him, well, you realize the university is enabling him in the bigger context of profiting from him.
It does seem a shame that rather than be coddled by his parents and Sumlin, Manziel couldn’t have spent the summer with a proper role model. Say, Jay Mariotti. Who knows more about how to act in the public eye and accept accountability for one’s actions? And who better to advise someone with Manziel’s limited life resume than a man with Mariotti’s many accomplishments (ie., he’s published a PDF eBook)?