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Johnny Paycheck: a history lesson for Mike Bianchi

Country singers and Texas quarterbacks

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For whatever reason, Orlando Sentinel writer Mike Bianchi has a deep-seeded need for creating nicknames for Johnny Manziel. No one really knows why. Perhaps he touches a nerve, like he does for so many. Or maybe he's not humble enough. What we do know is that he thinks he has cleverly invented yet another "Johnny ____" moniker and is brandishing it about now in print willy-nilly. He hasn't.  Here's why.

I'm sure it struck him in a moment of sheer inspiration; one that made him hustle to his laptop or phone to post it immediately for all his sprots-loving fans to read:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Is it just me or has Johnny Football turned into Johnny Paycheck?</p>&mdash; Mike Bianchi (@BianchiWrites) <a href="">August 9, 2013</a></blockquote>

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That's really neat, Mike. You combined a college football player's first name with a pretty obvious descriptor that makes your thoughts on the matter known. But your Twitter followers and others certainly weren't shy about letting you know that you weren't thinking original thoughts. Some of them sent you actual Johnny Paycheck videos:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>RT <a href="">@BianchiWrites</a>: Is it just me or has Johnny Football turned into Johnny Paycheck? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Ed Hardin (@Ed_Hardin) <a href="">August 9, 2013</a></blockquote>

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That's all well and good, right? Just a coincidence. "Take This Job and Shove it" ha, ha, ha. Bianchi probably heard that song once and thought it was funny and catchy. What he probably didn't know is that the real Johnny Paycheck struggled with intensely real demons that ended up cutting his career short. Addiction. Murder charges. Prison time. Whether or not that is what Bianchi is trying to imply is up in the air, but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's just ignorant of these facts and was lazy in not researching Johnny Paycheck (if he even knew he existed) before slapping the moniker on Manziel.

Because it wasn't just a one-off Tweet he used it in. His latest article employs the Johnny Paycheck brush quite liberally. It's a curious thing. This is not ESPN trying to break a story with reluctant sources or a blog with photographs. This is a regional outlet that for some reason feels the need to run statements like

Either way, the NCAA needs to come down and come down hard on Manziel. Actually, if Texas A&M has any integrity, the Aggies themselves should recognize that Manziel blatantly broke the rules and immediately suspend him for the season.


He's a professional autograph-signer who has no business playing college football.

along with multiple other "Johnny Paycheck" mentions.

Johnny Paycheck had one of the best harmony voices in Nashville during the outlaw country movement. He played and sang with the likes of George Jones, Ray Price, Roger Miller, and Faron Young before his own career took off. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1985 for a shooting in which his assailant's head was grazed by a .22 bullet, which he claimed was self-defense. He served two years in prison in the late '80s and declared bankruptcy in 1990. He died in 2003, a shell of his former self.

If this is the comparison Mr. Bianchi is going for, it's dark and tragic to say the least. Manziel is only 20 and rumors of his demons have only begun to surface. The more likely scenario is that Bianchi hasn't a clue about the original Johnny Paycheck.

Or Johnny Manziel, for that matter. To date, three very capable and respected journalists have spent time with Johnny and his family over the summer: Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, Wright Thompson of ESPN, and S.C. Gwynne of Texas Monthly. And after talking to one of them and hearing an interview with another, I think they would take issue with the following Bianchi assessment:

Manziel allegedly took tens of thousands of dollars presumably because he is spoiled, entitled little brat.

Looking forward to Bianchi's sit-down interview with Johnny Manziel.