Johnny Manziel is under investigation amid allegations of being paid to sign items
"Johnny Football" became the first freshman winner of the Heisman trophy in 2012
Texas A&M coach forbade him from speaking to the media like other freshmen
Once the ban was lifted, Manziel tweeted photos of himself gambling, partying
Last college football season, everybody was talking about Johnny Manziel. But Manziel wasn’t talking about anybody. The Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman trophy winner – better known by his aww-shucks, all-American nickname, Johnny Football – was not allowed to give any interviews, in accordance with head coach Kevin Sumlin’s rules for all freshmen players.
Once the regular season ended, and Johnny Football hysteria hit its height, Sumlin lifted the ban. Finally, a chance to get to know more about the superstar quarterback about whom, despite all his nationally televised on-field fireworks, so much was still shrouded in pigskin-scented mystery.
“What will he say?” “What’s he like?” Eager fans and sports writers couldn’t wait for the public Johnny Football to emerge. And he did –uneventfully – on November 26, 2012.
But now, after another scandal in an offseason that has been too eventful, Manziel and fans alike may have been better off with the Private Johnny Football.
On Sunday it was revealed that Manziel is the subject of an NCAA investigation for possibly being paid to autograph football memorabilia, which would violate the NCAA’s rules prohibiting athletes from making money by “promoting or advertising the commercial sale of a product or service.”
And so Johnny Football’s roller coaster of unprecedented success and relentless scandal continues. Here’s a recap of some of his other highs and lows.
February 2, 2011: The highly recruited quarterback officially signs with Texas A&M. Manziel was the nation’s 14th-ranked QB prospect and agrees to take a redshirt his freshman season.
June 29, 2012: Manziel is arrested in College Station, Texas, after a bar fight. He’s charged with fighting, failure to identify and possession of fake IDs.
November 11, 2012: Manziel leads Texas A&M to the biggest upset of the college football season, beating Alabama 29-24. Manziel throws for 253 yards and two touchdowns and rushes for another 93 yards. Johnny Football Fever spreads across the country.
December 8, 2012: Manziel becomes the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, after a record-breaking season during which he threw for 3,706 yards and ran for 1,410 and 21 touchdowns. Fellow Heisman finalist Manti Te’o said the dual-threat Manziel “is a human video game.”
December 24, 2012: Manziel plays golf with Jonas Brothers Joe and Nick. Whether this is a high or a low depends on your radio presets.
January 4: Johnny Football ends his season with a 41-13 pounding of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. He’s named the game’s MVP after throwing and rushing for more than 200 yards each.
January 5: Johnny Football begins his offseason by partying at a Houston nightclub … with his parents reportedly in attendance. Pictures of Manziel end up on TMZ – including one of him flexing while chomping on a sparkler.
He also posts an Instagram photo showing off his legal winnings from an Oklahoma casino. It’s relatively harmless stuff, but the “party boy” reputation soon leads to concerns and quotes like these…
January 16: Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops says of Manziel, “If they can keep him out of jail or keep him eligible, he’s gonna be pretty good.” Stoops then adds of the occasionally oversharing quarterback, “If they can keep him off Twitter, he might win three or four Heismans.”
March 7: Manziel tweets, “Spring Break! Finally ready for some time with the crew and well needed trip to Cabo!” Pictures follow – lots of them. Many people wonder aloud if it’s OK that a college student on spring break is having a really good time.
May 17: Manziel takes batting practice with the San Diego Padres and hits a home run, of course.
June 16: He tweets “Bulls— like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be.” The apparently anti-A&M post is dissected and criticized by sports analysts around the country. It’s later revealed the message was in reference to a parking ticket Manziel received. He later tweets fans should try to “walk a day in my shoes.” Both tweets have been deleted.
July 13: Manziel is a no-show for a Saturday morning appearance at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana, where 1,200 campers were expecting him. He later told the staff that he wasn’t feeling well and stayed in. The quarterback was then sent home, reportedly by Archie Manning, igniting new questions about his maturity and ability to handle the spotlight. The next week, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said, “I think, off the field, there’s no question he’s made some mistakes.”
July 15: Two days later, Manziel pleads guilty to possessing a fake driver’s license and was fined $2,000 in that 2012 bar fight case.
August 4: ESPN reports the NCAA is investigating whether Manziel was paid for autographs. The Heisman winner could be suspended if it’s determined he did receive money.