Published June 18, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – It didn't take Johnny Manziel 140 characters to spark another social media controversy. It only took 95.
On Sunday, the 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of Texas A&M sent out a tweet that read he can't wait to leave College Station. The tweet has since been deleted.
Though the reasons for why Manziel felt this way are unknown, it seems like an odd way for a player of his stature at a school so crazy for football to be having such negative feelings.
Manziel, of course, exploded onto the college football scene this past season en route to becoming the first freshman to collect the Heisman Trophy. He was the centerpiece of the resurgent Aggies, who in their first season in the SEC finished 11-2 with a No. 5 finish in the AP Top 25 along with a signature win against eventual national champion Alabama.
Leading the way for the Aggies in the campaign was Manziel, who combined to throw and run for more than 5,000 yards and 45 touchdowns, including the now iconic touchdown pass against the Crimson Tide in which he nearly fumbled the ball only to recover it, escape the pocket and find an open teammate in the end zone.
His season has Aggies fans as well as professional scouts salivating over what is to come next.
Those same fans and scouts may not be so excited to read, if only briefly, that the king of college football isn't sitting very comfortably right now.
This isn't the first time social media and the Internet have had an affect on the national reputation of the 20-year-old signal caller.
In the wake of his Heisman success, Manziel has been basking in his instant fame and celebrity. He was at the Super Bowl, had photos of himself snapped celebrating at Mardi Gras and has been photographed with a number of notable stars in the entertainment industry.
Those things are all fine. What makes what Manziel said and then retracted on Sunday different and more troubling is that it was more than just a harmless photograph of a 20-year-old college athlete enjoying the limelight. It showed the Aggies star player may be at odds with his school and possibly team right now. That's an extremely discouraging sign for a Texas A&M team that is considered to be both a SEC and BCS title contender in the upcoming season.
Right or wrong, a big part of why Manziel, who in most people's eyes is just living the dream of a college athlete, is under such scrutiny, is the times he is playing in.
Archie Griffin didn't have to deal with Twitter. If Bo Jackson got photographed out late one night, it wasn't plastered all over the Internet to be consumed and talked about for the bulk of the next sports news cycle. Even Cam Newton and Tim Tebow avoided some of the overwhelming attention that Manziel seems to be getting via the Internet and social media.
However, some of the blame is on Manziel. Though he should be able to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform, there is no rule saying he needs to be so prolific with his use of such sites. After all, with how easy it is to send out something, an emotionally charged reaction can go from a passing feeling to a sentence read and obsessed about across the country.
While the way Manziel continues to handle his online presence will unlikely affect his performance on the field, there could be another negative effect: It could have an impact on his draft stock, whenever it is that he decides to turn pro.
One of the big buzz words that is heard over and over in the months of evaluating players before the draft is "character." Scouts and teams don't just want guys who toss touchdowns but ones who are dedicated to winning without off-the-field issues.
That goes hand in hand with another word that a player never wants to be called: a distraction.
Though their situations are not even remotely similar, it is unquestionable that Manti Te'o dropped so far in the draft in part because of the controversy that surrounded him earlier this year. Before that, Te'o was probably on track to go not only in the first round but among the first few selections.
Manziel is predicted by many to be a top-10 pick should he decide to declare next year. Though it may be unfair, scouts are certainly going to take into account the public image that Manziel has cultivated for himself, both good and bad.
Tweets like the one he sent on Sunday are not ones that will be jotted down in the "good" column. In fact, that specific posting is probably the worst thing Manziel could put out there other than a photograph of anything illegal or a some sort of insensitive remark.
NFL teams have shown an ability to tolerate "overly zealous" players. Rob Gronkowski with the New England Patriots is a perfect example. But teams are not going to be so lenient if a player derides the organization.
What Manziel does on the field will always be valued much higher than anything he posts online, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to avoid another post like the one from Sunday. Otherwise Johnny Football might get a new nickname: distraction.