Heisman Trophy winner Manziel learning to handle spotlight
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel fights his way through a crowd of photographers and reporters as he arrives for the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Associated Press
Published: July 18, 2013   |
Updated: July 18, 2013 at 06:41 AM
HOOVER, Ala. - Johnny Manziel strode into Southeastern Conference Media Days and was swarmed by hundreds of reporters and dozens of television cameramen.
He shook some hands and the cameras flashed as he settled into his seat, the star of the SEC's latest must-see TV show.
If the Texas A&M quarterback was troubled by all the attention, he didn't show it.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, checkered shirt and striped tie, Manziel answered every question thrown his way during the 30-minute Q&A, and some were even about football. He said he largely enjoys the spotlight that comes with winning the Heisman Trophy - even if it sometimes includes unsavory headlines.
"This is just another day," Johnny Football said with a grin.
The 20-year-old sophomore and face of college football spent most of his three-hour stay at the Wynfrey Hotel bouncing from one interview session to another. He mostly talked about an offseason that has frequently made him a trending topic.
"I don't feel like I've done anything that's catastrophic," said Manziel, the first freshman to win the Heisman and undeniably a unique talent on the field. "Of course, I've made my mistakes. It's time to grow up."
The most recent misstep came last weekend at the Manning Passing Academy. Manziel was one of many college quarterback counselors at the camp for high school prospects run by Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning in Louisiana, but he left before it was over.
He says he missed activities because he "overslept," and his absence had nothing to do with being out the night before.
"I was not asked to leave. It was a mutual decision," Manziel said.
He said that while there were social events every night with the Mannings, he did not miss his meetings because of too much partying.
"The speculation of me being too hung over and that's the reason I missed the meetings is absolutely incorrect," he said.
He said he was disappointed he missed camp activities, but that there were "no hard feelings" between him and the Mannings. He said he's already been invited back to next summer's camp and looks forward to attending.
The early exit from the Manning camp is just part of Manziel's offseason in the public eye.
He pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor of not identifying himself to a police officer following a 2012 altercation at a bar near campus in College Station.
He sent out an update on Twitter in June saying that he "can't wait to leave" College Station, before quickly deleting the update. He later apologized.
He also created a minor stir in February when he said he took most of his classes online and didn't go on campus very much.
None of the transgressions were huge, but they combined to keep Johnny Football in the news and raise questions about his character.
"My offseason, all the stuff's that's gone on will have no effect on this season," Manziel said. "I'm ready to stop. No more talk after this. Let's play football."