On April Fools Day, it’s important not to take things at face value.
Yes, it’s a cynical approach, but one that usually saves embarrassment and a lengthy apology later.
So, when I read a column in the Orlando Sentinel that criticized Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for some of his off-season escapades and then asserted that the Heisman Trophy Trust should rethink giving the award to a first year player, I had to pause.
This is a joke, right?
Columnist Matt Murschel claimed that Manziel going to NBA games and clubs with his friends and hanging out with “scantily-clad coeds” makes him unworthy of college football’s most sacred trophy, which is just absolute nonsense.
After the offseason that Manziel has had, the Heisman Trust should rethink giving the award to a first year player again.
The pictures tell the story, there’s the ones with him at a club with friends, or courtside at an NBA game or dressed up as Scooby-Doo next to scantily-clad coeds or the ones where he is enjoying spring break on the sandy beaches of Cabo.
Each documenting the life of an average college student, yet in Manziel’s case, he is not your average college student. He’s the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, which means everything he does — good or bad — is magnified 10-fold.
There’s no doubt that Manziel has been under immense scrutiny, but he hasn’t done anything that’s out of the ordinary for most college kids. More importantly, he hasn’t done anything illegal either by law or the NCAA. What is he supposed to do? Shut himself in his room and polish his Heisman? He’s a 20-year-old college student enjoying his college experience. Did we need to see all the pictures on Instagram and Twitter? Probably not, but saying he might not deserve a trophy for his on-field accomplishments because you don't agree with his off-filed choices is short-sided.
The Macon Telegraph wrote a story in December 2011 about Heisman Trophy winners who had less than savory backgrounds - drug arrests, murder trials and counterfeiting schemes - following their award wins. And no one called for their Heisman Trophies. Yet Manziel posing for a couple pictures is so horrible that the Heisman should rethink giving the award to another first year player? O.J. Simpson, the 1968 Heisman winner, is laughing from his jail cell.
Manziel already has admitted that he didn’t grasp the enormity of winning the award and he’s said several times that he’s learning on the fly in terms of dealing with fans and media. Murschel question’s Manziel’s maturity, but this is the same young man who voluntarily took himself off of Twitter so he could temper the attention surrounding him.
He’s also been intelligent and thoughtful in his comments in the media.
Still, Murschel ends his column with this gem:
Hopefully in the future, Heisman voters will carefully consider the media savvy and maturity of a candidate along with their on the field achievements.
In honor of April Fool’s Day, I’m looking at Murschel’s column with a skeptical eye because it's hard for me to fathom someone taking this stance. It just sounds like he’s a cranky columnist asking Manziel to grab his Heisman and his bottle of Dom Perignon and his pictures with the guys from Duck Dynasty and his scantily-clad coeds and get off his lawn.
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