In the latest installment of the The Greatest Summer Ever, Johnny Football was sent home from the Manning Passing Academy this weekend after "getting sick" and missing the morning workout sessions.
I've been there, dude. Diagnosis: Vodka flu.
Johnny Fucking Football. First meant as an exclamation of ecstatic gridiron joy, the middle expletive now suggestive of what he's doing to his career.
A camp spokesman:
"Johnny Manziel did participate in some activities in the 2013 Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach," the statement said. "After missing and being late for practice assignments, Johnny explained that he had been feeling ill. Consequently, we agreed that it was in everyone's best interest for him to go home a day early."
The question isn't whether Johnny Manziel is going to self-implode into a glorious supernova that will make Charles Thompson, Ryan Leaf, Billy Cannon, and Art Schlichter (pick your generation and point of sunburst) golf clap for its brightness, but when.
When does this thing go fully off of the rails? In College Station? In the NFL? After the Aggies erect a 185 foot statue of him astride the 50 yard line like the Colossus of Rhodes? Every now and then, an errant booming punt striking him in his bronzed nuts.
Am I the only person picturing a 37 year old Johnny Has Been plus thirty five pounds and a gin blossom nose that would make Ted Kennedy and WC Fields envious, hanging out at the Texas A&M Delt house and asking how the freshman girls are looking this year?
Manziel's father blames "dehydration" - probably not the best excuse to offer as "dehydration and exhaustion" are the code words currently most favored by strung-out actresses checking into rehab and rock stars who cancel their touring dates after doing LSD from a pez dispenser and firing a handgun off of their balcony at the sunrise that won't stop staring at them.
Manziel is an instinctive football player and his wild streak is integral to his athletic genius and, in no small part, a big part of the belief his teammates have in him. If you disagree, I have two words for you, Longhorn fans: Bobby Layne. And if I may quote the best line from Taylor T Room's amazing profile of Layne:
I think that sometimes genius is like a house of cards, dependent upon an intricate arrangement of supports, and it’s naïve to think that one facet of a personality can be taken away while still retaining the exceptional. Bobby Layne drank, probably too much, and was one of the most remarkable football players ever. That’s the whole picture.
Of course, Manziel is no Bobby Layne, however thrilling his freshman year. He'll need a 15 year NFL career and three NFL title wins to enter the discussion. The pertinent question is whether Manziel can keep the intricate structures upright while still pulling a trump card out his ass every Saturday.
Bobby Layne is a legend precisely because he could. And there ain't many legends left.