What Makes Johnny Run?

Updated: August 16, 2013

Photo courtesy of bloguin.com

What’s going on with this guy, our reigning Heisman Trophy champ? Could he really be as arrogant, reckless, dumb as it appears?

Aside from all his twitter wars, getting bounced at U-Texas frat parties, his tweet about leaving College Station,  and general boorishness, Johnny Manziel has now potentially gotten himself into some really hot water. As reported over the last weeks Johnny has signed his name on A LOT of memorabilia…reportedly over 4400 items with 6 memorabilia brokers. There is videotape, everything but actual cashola changing hands.

Photo by Shutterbug459

So what was this guy thinking? To understand Johnny Manziel best to read the following 2 articles:

  1. One from Deadspin which chronicles the colorful family background of the Manziel clan replete with cockfighting, hustling, grifting, wildcatting, lawsuits, etc. Provides a real picture of the culture from which Johnny Football comes.
  2. Another piece from Wright Thompson for ESPN which interviews Johnny’s parents and depicts some of the family dynamics at play. Johnny comes off as an angry, cocky guy who in his upbringing has been largely left to run wild.

These pieces are long and tedious but fascinating, and go a long way toward explaining Johnny’s hard-living, gunslinging ways. In fact Johnny’s case evokes memories of Bobby Layne, Billy Kilmer and Kenny Stabler, guys who left nothing on the field (…or on the barroom floor or anywhere else for that matter).

As far as figuring out Johnny, his case is a reminder of something we see over and over again: when we see aberrant behavior, especially in extreme personalities, and can’t understand why they do the things they do…we can’t understand for a good reason. We’re not like them. We typically view a Johnny Manziel, an A-Rod, a Ryan Braun, look at their actions with our own sensibilities and can’t believe they did what they apparently did. Charles Manson or Bernie Madoff are not necessarily burdened with a conscience or a moral code, they may be sociopaths or extreme narcissists. We’ll never get these guys either. But the facts remain.

Then the question, whither the NCAA? While the NCAA investigates whether anything untoward has taken place…it obviously has…the only question is what they can prove without proof of cash changing hands. Chances are they won’t find that. On the other hand the NCAA is not a court of law, they can rule on a preponderance of evidence. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… And in fact they have a rule on the books that the student-athlete has a responsibility to help prevent their memorabilia from being sold commercially. The NCAA has all they need.

Courtesy of Blueag9

Chances are at this point we’re really waiting for the NCAA to figure out what they want to do about it. The NCAA has come down pretty hard on Penn State and Ohio State without any real due process. Other harsh penalties: Dez Bryant, 10 games for essentially lying to the NCAA about a legal meal with Deion Sanders; Terrell Pryor, 5 games for his memorabilia-for-tat swap; AJ Green, 4 games for selling a jersey for $1000. Dez has already opined that ‘hell, yeah’ he’ll be mad if Johnny doesn’t get suspended.

Meanwhile the NCAA is well aware that after 2 appetizers on Texas A&M’s schedule (Rice and Sam Houston State), week 3 has the long-awaited rematch for Alabama. Big money game. We know the NCAA…very conflicted. Let’s remember the business we’re in.

Will Nick Saban be preparing his ‘Bama defense for Johnny Football? Relative penalties from these other cases would say no, NCAA hypocrisy would say yes. All I know is if the NCAA punts on this there will be a lot of questions to answer. Al Sharpton will call it racism (maybe with good reason), Jesse Jackson will invoke Selma, maybe even Congressional inquiries (no, just kidding…but you never know).

The NCAA is another one of these cases where we just can’t understand how they rule as they do, and do it with a straight face (but once again, our own moral sensibilities intrude). The really reliable predictor of NCAA actions is the old notion of ‘follow the money’.

This post was written by

Dave Graziano – who has written posts on Big Dog Sports Blog.
Short Hills, NJ USA


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