Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel doesn't want any more off-field attention. But he also isn't going to do anything to avoid it.
So, presumably, it shall continue, no matter how much Manziel is sick of it, and no matter how much his teammates are tired of it too (wow, that was fast).
Manziel was irked and defiant on Friday, speaking after participating in a youth football clinic as part of the NFL rookie symposium. He said his teammates are "tired of the hype." Then he continued that he is also tired of being a constant topic of conversation for his partying.
"I’m sitting here seeing these things and I’m tired of it as well," Manziel said in the interview, posted on YouTube by Ohio.com. "I want to wake up with a week and not have my name going through something."
He's an interesting study in fame, because this hasn't really happened before in the sporting world. Not to this extent, anyway.
The latest issue was the "money phone" video. In it, he pretends a stack of money is a phone and makes a bad joke with an expletive about not being able to hear because he has too much money in his hand. It's not really all that exciting, interesting or even funny, but it became a thing. Because it's Manziel.
Here's why Manziel's case is so different than what we've seen: This isn't the mainstream media making the story. The media is reporting what becomes hot on social media with Manziel. The Akron Beacon Journal wasn't following around Manziel in Vegas, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer wasn't recording him floating on an inflatable swan. People are following around Manziel, waiting to capture that moment and share it. (Also, you can complain about the media writing about him, but Manziel stories are wildly popular among readers — trust me — and I'm positive that I'm not clicking them for you.)
"I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong," Manziel said. "I’m going out, and everybody on the weekends goes out and enjoys their life. Just for them, they don’t have people when they walk into a place pull out their phones and all they want to do is follow me around and record everything. My situation is unique and different."
Very unique. And let's get another thing straight. Manziel isn't the only NFL player who goes out on the weekends. Far from it. That has to frustrate Manziel. Vegas must have been crawling with NFL players on Memorial Day weekend, and he's the only one whose trip turned into a topic of conversation on social media. Nobody threw a fit when Andrew Luck was spotted in Brazil for the World Cup (nobody should have, either). Joe Montana isn't offering any other player advice on how to live his life, like he did Manziel.
If you think Manziel is the only player out on the weekends, while everyone else studies their playbooks and drinks some warm milk before tucking themselves into bed by 9:30 p.m., you're fooling yourself.
"I’m just like everybody else," Manziel said. "Things get blown out of proportion sometimes. Things seem to follow me a little bit.
"Just because of what’s reported in the media or what’s getting out on social media doesn’t mean that’s all that I’m doing in my life. Just my weekends aren’t what I’m doing seven days out of the week. That’s two days out of the week.
"If I want to go back home and spend time with my friends or go out and enjoy my weekends, I absolutely have the right to do that."
He has a point, and that's what makes the situation difficult. For the most part he has done nothing wrong. He got in one legal incident before he even became Texas A&M's starting quarterback, but there has been nothing serious since then. He pointed out that whatever he does on his off time isn't affecting his job, and it's not hurting his teammates. All true.
But he's trapped by his fame. Even if 99 of 100 people let him enjoy his time out in peace, the 100th person takes a cell-phone video of him making a dumb joke about a "money phone" and away we go again. And fans have proven they have an insatiable appetite for Manziel's life off the field. So it goes.
What's Manziel to do? Not go out to avoid attention? Go out and just deal with the backlash that comes, correctly reiterating time and again that he's committed to football but wants to enjoy his time off as well?
"When I walk in somewhere it‘s a story," Manziel said. "I have to have a better understanding of that."
Manziel paused briefly and looked down, measuring his next words.
"I’m not going to change who I am for anybody," he said.
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- American Football