Column: Here comes Johnny Football

We all know how the rest of Johnny Football’s story unfolded. Manziel decided to forego his junior season at Texas A&M to enter the NFL Draft. (Twitter/@aggiefblife)

I’m not sure I have an eye for real talent, but I certainly have an eye for electric players.

Jimmer Fredette is my favorite college basketball player I’ve ever seen. I understand that’s not a popular opinion around these parts, but I didn’t grow up a UConn fan. Watching an average-sized kid pull up for a jumper from half court on his way to scoring 40 points per game was the best thing I’d ever seen.

Fredette didn’t work out in the NBA and he now averages 37 points a game in the Chinese Basketball Association.

A few years later, I found Johnny Manziel. I’ll never forget the first time I watched Manziel play; coincidentally it was the same day he burst onto the national scene. Manziel lead Texas A&M to a 29-24 victory over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Manziel accounted for 345 of the Aggies’ 418 yards of offense. I’ll never forget him dancing around the pocket, fumbling the ball and then proceeding to find a receiver in the end zone. I knew he was special.

That season Manziel went on to win SEC Freshman of the Year, College Football Performance National Freshmen of the Year, the Davey O’Brian Award and to top it all off he was the first freshman to ever win the coveted Heisman Trophy.

We all know how the rest of Johnny Football’s story unfolded. Manziel decided to forego his junior season at Texas A&M to enter the NFL Draft. He was polarizing to say the least, from his actual draft stock to his off the field antics. He had trouble with both police and the NCAA.

Manziel was seen as reckless and frequent photos of him partying painted him as too immature to take the reigns of an NFL franchise.

With that, he slipped to the 22nd pick, where the Cleveland Browns took him.

Manziel’s career in the NFL was tumultuous. He was benched before his rookie season for making an obscene gesture in a preseason game. There was an incident with his girlfriend but no charges were ever brought attention. A video of Manziel partying surfaced on the Internet causing Browns head coach Mike Pettine to demote him to third string. I could go on and on. The point is, Manziel never got his act together and he was cut by the Browns after two years.

Flash forward to 2018 and Johnny Manziel is on the comeback trail. In an exclusice interview ABC News’ T.J. Holmes that came out Monday morning, Manziel admitted to being diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. He said that in the past he was ‘self-medicating’ with alcohol to battle the depression.

“(The next morning) you are left staring at the ceiling by yourself, and in that depression and back in that hole, that dark hole of sitting in a room by yourself, super depressed, thinking about all the mistakes you made in your life," Manziel explained. "What did that get me? Where did that get me except out of the NFL? Where did that get me? Disgraced?"

I’m rooting for Manziel. I really am. From what I’ve read/heard about him in the past few weeks, he seriously seems like a changed man. He knows how big of a hole he dug himself into, and all he can do is keep his name out of the spotlight and work on his craft. I’m excited to see him playing again.

“I can sit here and say I will be back on a football field this year,” Manziel said on the popular sports podcast, Pardon My Take. “I cannot f****** wait to do it. And I’m happy about where I’m at in my personal life.”

I’m here for the comeback. I can’t stop loving Johnny Football.


Connor Donahue is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.