For the time being, we should all have pride, respect and envy for Johnny Football

Posted Monday, Feb. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel There should not be a Longhorn, Horned Frog, Mustang, Red Raider or any other Texas-affiliated fan or alum who looks at Johnny Manziel with anything other than enormous respect, pride and envy.

Respect because he did something no other college football player has done in winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman.

Pride because what Johnny did this season represented the great state of Texas as well as any football player since  …   well, RGIII.

Envy because he’s not your quarterback and, well, just Google search the pictures; from the pretty girlfriend to the parties to the courtside seats to kickin’ it with LeBron James to Jay Leno. Manziel said one of his new best friends is rapper Wale (yes, I had to look up the spelling).

“I’ve never had more fun playing football in my life,” he said.

He may never again, so squeeze this ride for as long as you can, Johnny.

The man forever known as Johnny Football made it to the Fort Worth Club on Monday to receive another trophy, this time the Davey O’Brien Award as the greatest quarterback in the history of the sport (at least in 2012).

At this point, the easy sell is to say that what we have here is a young man who is facing potentially the greatest fall in the history of college football. Barring another Heisman and a BCS title, there is no way his ensuing seasons can match the first.

And those who say that may be right, but who cares?

What if he is better?

Why not just celebrate him for what he did than skewer him for what he has not even tried to do?

It’s still a new year, and it’s cool to be bold and think big: By the time Johnny Football leaves College Station, not only will he will be regarded as the best player in the history of that institution but as one of the best college players this state has ever seen.

Even if the Aggies don’t do as well in ’13 as they did in ’12, it would be an insult to say that Johnny Football was the football equivalent to that girl who sings that stupid song Call Me Maybe.

What he did was not over the course of a single game. He did it for the entire season against some of the best teams in the nation.

He embarrassed Alabama’s “amateur” defense.

Manziel did more in one season of college football than many of his predecessors have done in four. Nothing Manziel does from today until the end of his career will change the memories he created for himself, his teammates, their university and their following.

Because the NCAA prohibits players — sorry, student athletes — from receiving a check, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin, director of athletics Eric Hyman and the A&M board of regents should agree to give Manziel a “golden parachute” when he does decide to leave. And not just the royalty trademark rights to “Johnny Football.”

Every A&M fan who followed this season will fondly recall 2012 as a great year, and no matter what Manziel does from here until the end, he should be warmly received in College Station as a football hero.

The same is true for former Texas quarterback Vince Young. He may be taking out six-figure loans to throw himself a party, and he may have stunk it up as an NFL quarterback, but there isn’t a Longhorns fan who would not buy the man a steak dinner for what he did when he was attending college in Austin.

By the looks and sounds of it, Manziel is already kicking around the idea of leaving for the NFL. He would be silly not to. Shorter guys who can run and throw are now NFL chic, and by this time next year Manziel will be eligible to apply for the draft.

“I love A&M and I love everything about it, so when the time comes I think it will be a hard decision,” he said.

That decision is a little less than a year away. Until then there is still the matter of playing Alabama at home, taking those pesky online courses, trying doggedly to avoid Instagram and Twitter, and seeing if he can do it all over again, only better.

He may. He may not.

Either way, it still sure is great to be Johnny Football.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof

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