Like many Aggies, I found a great measure of onerous joy in hearing last night’s news that Johnny Manziel acquired an attorney, who in turn informed the world that no formal NCAA investigation has been opened as of yet into the autographs-for-sale allegations fomented by certain ESPN writers. With reckless abandon, I threw accusations and conjecture all over the Twitterverse, proudly denouncing the shoddy journalism that touched off the firestorm of the past week. Last night and this morning, I’ve engaged in back-and-forth semantic arguments with fellow posters on TexAgs.com on the meaning and intent of Darren Rovell’s use of the word "investigation" in his original article.
Then, this morning, Mrs. Plan dropped something in my lap that I had not even slowed down to consider. It is important – so very significant to the crazy narrative of Johnny Manziel’s life. My wife asked the "Why?" question. She wondered aloud if this entire episode has a higher cosmic purpose in the maturation of this young 20-year-old.
Up to now, Johnny’s chronicled exploits have struck most of us as the normal goofiness and reckless abandon of youth. However, they have also fed a media-driven image of a selfish, spoiled brat that puts himself above his teammates and his university. That narrative does not have to be true to harm Johnny’s stock, both as a college player and potential at the professional level. There is going to be resistance to choosing a "loose cannon" to win the Heisman or in the first round of the NFL draft. Perception is indeed reality and perception has, thus far, fallen from the keyboards of national media competing for sensational stories. Deferring to his youth, Johnny has heretofore chosen instead to do what felt good to him; he has lived his life on his own terms. Because we have all been there, most of us have defended his right to do that.
Youth must, however, eventually succumb to adulthood. Maturity ushers in the realization that our actions not only affect our own lives, but have tremendous impact on the welfare of others. In Johnny’s case, the fortunes of an exciting young football team with national championship aspirations hang in the balance. His teammates and coaches, who saw in him the potential for greatness when others would relegate him to the defensive backfield, the university and her former students who proudly claim him as a favored son…as "one of us", the long-suffering fan base of the Texas A&M football program – all are stakeholders in every single public decision that Johnny Manziel makes.
I think my wife is exactly right - the dramatic events of this past week may have a purpose far beyond the face value of an embattled superstar. Perhaps, in the end, a higher (perhaps even divine) celestial power has finally roused Johnny Football from the lazy slumber of youth and ushered him into manhood. If so, then these chaotic days will have served all of us who are impacted by the very public life of Johnny Manziel more positively than most of us have imagined. More importantly, perhaps this will bend the course of his life toward healthier and more productive choices. This bump in the road may very well save him from self-inflicted heartaches. For me, as a Dad, teacher and former minister, the latter really is the victory I most seek for Johnny. I suspect most of you feel the same.