I've never attended Texas A&M. Unless I can get a job that will pay for postgrad education there, the odds are against me ever going there. But I consider myself a lifelong fan. With a grandpa who was a professor and a dad and uncles who attended, I was wearing maroon and white before I could speak. The names I grew up on were those of Dat Nguyen, Reggie McNeal, Terrence Murphy, a pair of Bennetts, and the Lane-Goodson backfield. That means that I spent the beginnings of my football fandom is the wasteland of the Fran years. That's what I knew. And so my most vivid memory was shouting about 4 goal line passes against Oklahoma with the J-Train behind the line. Completely unrelated to the subject of this post, that was the most ignorant bit of playcalling I can imagine. Not just seen, but can imagine.
But I digress. Anyways, I don't have much memory of the Sherman times. Fran managed to instill a sense of apathy that lasted, for me, beyond his blighted tenure. This lasted until I served a mission for my church. For the purposes of this fanpost, just know that I didn't watch TV or follow sports from Oct 2010-2012. The only things I knew involved my brother writing me to tell me we had this kid, Johnny Manziel, who was a pretty good QB. I recall asking if he was better than McNeal and Jerrod Johnson, and was skeptical when I was told yes. This was Aggie football, which I had learned to love without having any expectations for success. Upon arriving home, my brother showed me highlights from the 2012 Ole Miss game that he had just attended. Somehow, I was still skeptical, even though I saw some crazy things. We had a receiver who was this dominant all the time, even though he had only played football for 2 years? Yeah, right. Not in the Texas A&M I remembered. Then we watched the Mississippi State game. The Ags rolled out in some fresh new black unis. Not exactly what I remembered. We had a young, energetic new coach and an OC my mom may have been crushing on. Definitely not what I remembered. But the most important thing? This happened.
I couldn't believe it. My brother told me that was normal. Normal? That was astounding. And then we didn't blow the lead in the second half. This was uncharted territory. During the game my dad tells me we have tickets to go to Alabama next week. I remember the attitude on the trip down. "I just hope we can keep it close," my dad would say as his Battered Ag syndrome would flare up. Only my brother truly had hope. At then, once again, I was amazed.
I stood, surrounded by drunk Alabama fans, losing my mind. The Alabama juggernaut kept pushing, but Johnny kept dancing the Aggies just barely out of reach. When the clock read 0:00, it was surreal. Singing the War Hymn was beautiful. Walking back to our car in a bewildered haze was beautiful. Talking with Bama bros at one of the bars about how that Johnny is something else was beautiful. This was a team that had found its place, a team that seemed unstoppable. I don't have anything profound to say at this point. I didn't go through anything difficult beyond transitioning back to the world. This wasn't how my brother, or father, and I rekindled a broken relationship through the mutual joy of Aggie Football. No, this is just one of the happiest moments of my life. And so was every game after that where I got to watch Johnathan Football and Michael Evans, Esquire, work magic against opposing defenses. Johnny, Mike, Kevin, and company did more than make Aggie Football exciting again. They made the world a better place for countless individuals, 1 Saturday at a time. They made me feel like a part of the Aggie family instead of just a cousin, or whatever sort of relation would fit. (Good Bull Hunting also helped with that.) And, though they're gone from Kyle Field and whatever opposing stadium they feel like wrecking (LSU omitted), they'll always be a part of history for college football, Texas A&M, and me.
So thanks, Johnny (and Mike), and BTHO the NFL.