Johnny and the ethos of "No New Friends"

USA TODAY Sports

Critically analyzing the seemingly prevalent philosophies guiding Johnny's entourage.

I don’t think anything will come of this investigation of Johnny. Until there is a legitimate paper trail leading back to Johnny profiting off of his signature, then this is all an effort by ESPN to create clicks and extend their “Summer of Johnny” well into the season. That being said, the entire saga has called into question just who Johnny has surrounding him.

According to Wright Thompson, Nate Fitch currently serves as Johnny’s personal assistant. Specifically Wright states the following:

Nate dropped out of school this year to act as Johnny's assistant and manager, handling media requests and helping coordinate the bodyguards from Houston whom Johnny's parents would like them to hire whenever they go out, making sure there's someone around to defuse a confrontation before it begins.

Johnny and Nate go back, so it absolutely makes sense that Johnny would trust Nate implicitly to handle his affairs, despite Nate being only 20 years old and just as new to the struggles of handling superstardom as Johnny is.

Now onto that ethos part. We know Johnny loves Drake. Johnny has spent time with Drake in Toronto on multiple occasions, and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Johnny both looks up to Drake and values his opinions. Drake has a philosophy about folks he keeps around him, and it’s encapsulated well in the DJ Khaled track “No New Friends.” The purpose of the track is to state publicly a lack of trust for new people—that a strong inner circle is made up of folks who you’ve known for a long time (day one folks), and who know you, and therefore you don’t have to question their motives. This sentiment is echoed by numerous rappers who like to keep a closed circle. They express that if you weren’t there for the “come up” then you don’t deserve to reap any of the rewards of success.

I get this philosophy. I do. Trust the people that you know. Success is fleeting, and you want people around you who are going to both celebrate your success and be there for you when your success goes away.

But that’s problematic, as we’re seeing right now. Those “day one friends” don’t know how to handle fame any better than you do…and don’t you want folks around you who have demonstrated success in handling fame/famous players?

I 100% get the thought process of having folks around you that are going to be there for you regardless of your levels of success, but on the flip side, it would seem comforting to me to have people around me who are just as invested in my success as I am—meaning they have financial/reputational/personal stake in me “making it,” so they’re going to do everything in their power to protect me—and in turn they are going to protect themselves. The concept of “no new friends” is incomplete. It should be “no new friends, except those with expertise.”

In my opinion this is the root of the rift between the Manziels and Texas A&M. A&M wants to manage Johnny, but they are also looking out for their own best interests—what’s missing here is a conversation on how A&M’s interests and Johnny’s interests intersect. The two interests should be looked at as complementary as opposed to contradictory. Both want and need Johnny to be successful. Both want Johnny’s brand to be as big as possible. Both should want Johnny to accomplish both of these tasks with a high level of security, meaning operating well within the guidelines of the NCAA.

I don’t question Nate Fitch’s loyalty at all. Every person should be lucky enough to have a friend like Nate who would readily drop out of school to help out. I’ve never met Nate—but I’m sure he’s a good guy with good intentions. I do, however, question Nate’s level of expertise and ability to navigate through the complex nuances associated with managing a superstar. That’s an area where Johnny does need new friends to help him out.

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