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Maybe it’s because we live in a Twitter-centric society with a 24-hour news cycle and an uncanny impact of a cell phone. Maybe it’s because of the newly placed importance on dissecting our public figures to the point of no return. Or maybe it’s because Johnny Manziel hangs out with celebrities and acts like a 21-year-old instead of a 32-year-old veteran quarterback.
But with all of the attention paid to Manziel, what he does on his Saturday nights to what he does when he receives reps with the first-team offense, none of it is warranted.
This weekend, as the Cleveland Browns began training camp, Manziel finally addressed the media about all of the attention and scrutiny he receives, and he answered it in the most innocent, clear-cut — and by the way — accurate manner.
Manziel is 21 and he acts like he’s 21. He’s as passionate about the game of football as he is about enjoying life. And what he does on a weekend two weeks before training camp has zero impact on his attempt to become the Browns’ starting quarterback.
“I have fun playing this game, going out on this field playing football,” Manziel said. “It’s what I live for. It’s what I do, the same way off the field. Whether I’m playing golf, going out and having a night life, whatever it is, I have a lot of fun. That’s what my life is, and luckily for me I’m living out my dream of playing in the NFL having a ton of fun. My dream has come true, and I finally got some time to get some downtime and celebrate that with my family, with my friends.
“This is the greatest life that I could have ever imagined for me, and I’m loving that. Will I continue to get better being a professional and learn lessons about life? Of course, I’m 21 years old. Age is not an excuse, but I need to mature and I have done some immature things. Moving forward, I’m going to try and mature and get better and handle myself better as a professional. That’s really all I can say about that.
“My life is incredible. I’m blessed to be in this position. I’m going to have fun each and every day, whether it’s practice, whether it’s training camp, whether it’s during the season going out and playing a game which will be even better, or it’s going out in the offseason or playing golf or hanging out with my family. Life is fun. Enjoy while it’s here.”
That is one of the most mature statements you’ll get from a 21-year-old, one that just went from being the biggest celebrity at his university and a Heisman Trophy winner to a first-round pick in the NFL. The same guy that celebs like LeBron James and Drake want to be around. The same guy that can single-handedly change the fate of a professional sports franchise.
Manziel is still a kid, and one that probably has never been able to act like one without repercussions. The last time I checked, there’s no rules against having an adult beverage and a night out on the town with friends. And because he does this, he’s constantly bombarded with TMZ cameras and is the talk of Twitter.
I loved how Manziel said he was just trying to live his life, because for some reason the media and some critics simply cannot comprehend that. He isn’t trying to draw attention to himself when he ventures out on the weekends; it’s those people who give it to him.
And despite all of his off-the-field antics, it has had no impact on his career as a football player. He won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, a feat that was unheard of. He helped Texas A&M down Alabama, which is nothing to ever look past because, well, it’s Alabama. And last year he actually posted better statistics than he did that historical freshman season.
All of that success at A&M translated to being a first-round pick by a franchise that has been starved for success and in desperate need for a quarterback. Manziel has a chance to change the future for the Browns, Cleveland, and its fans.
So if he wants to live his life, let him. When it starts to impact his career, then let him hear it. But until then, back down. He’s a 21-year-old star being a 21-year-old. Just let him have fun, with both football and life.
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