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The Tragedy of Johnny F@ck-All

He has already reached so high that the only story we know how to tell about Johnny Manziel, now, is how he fell.


Here we wait, three-act screenplay structure in hand, waiting for the big screw up. We need for the hero to reward our bloodlust by failing. And, when he does, he'll be played by Enver Gjokaj on the Lifetime™ channel. Yes, aren't I the terrible T-Sip, tearing down the A&M quarterback, out of jealousy no doubt, using a British expression in my title, no less. Right?

No. I don't need to see the man torn down. If I did, I could just watch his LSU lowlights all over again. Instead, I think the poor guy is a victim of circumstance, doomed from the start.

Texas fans, sober and informed ones anyway, don't see Manziel as the great could-have-been for Texas, because we know that Texas wanted to turn him into the next Blake Gideon. That, along with Manziel's exquisite timing in becoming the all-everything QB in another conference, and it's been easy for Texas fans to sit back and watch the man play some damned good football.

So, when folks started tut-tutting the man, and not in a good way, for washing out of the Manning camp for whatever it was, I can truly say that I just didn't get it. All these sports fans suddenly clutching their pearls over a college student, partying. Sure: laugh if you want, but don't strike a pose like the comfort waistband warriors, waxing tedious about "leadership," which I guess they read about in Time Life Books, or something. It's the offseason. Professional sportswriters needed column inches, and internet infallibilities wanted new cathedrae (from which to ex) since the old ones were making their overflowing asses sore.

Not since Shae Morenz tore up his knee bearing some bint down the stairs have I smelled such calumnious beer-belching bullshit. And it's all beside the point.

The great tragedy of Johnny Manziel, it appears, is not that Texas didn't get him. It's that Manziel didn't get to come to Texas. Yes, you know he wanted to come here, but it's deeper than that. There's a reason he wanted to come to Texas, and it's why he doesn't fit at A&M. He doesn't just love Texas, he's a rich kid. (Hey, didn't you know all us Texas guys were frat daddies? I know, weird, right? I don't remember pledging or paddling or any of their other homoerotic traditions.) He went to highschool in the hill country, not the malarial Brazos bottom, coming of age in one of Austin's satellite cultural playgrounds. That's why Manziel was already sick of College Station before he tweeted about it, to judge from the explanations given in his defense. There is a very specific culture that goes with aggie. Some are able to convert to it, but so many are born to it. Manziel fits in about as well as I would have, which is why he wants to be in Austin, every chance he gets. But Texas looked right through him, and took David Ash.

At Texas A&M, Manziel wound up with a better offense, a better O-line, and a better coach, in a better conference, and it's still not enough for him. You, Orangeblood: imagine that, shunned by the 40 Acres, your path to glory ran through College Station.

I'll wait right here while you go vomit.

And it gets worse. Imagine, not just being marooned in College Station, but watching the calendar, waiting for your third year, second on the field. And waiting for it to be over, already. You've already won the highest individual award your sport offers ... at your level. Just one more season, and you can declare for the NFL draft. If you can avoid running a dog-fighting ring, the way before you is clear. Yes, you come from money, but now you can earn fame and fortune with your own muscle, a clear shot at fame few will ever have, though so many dream of it. And you've already tasted it, been feted, telecast. Hell, on Google, "Johnny ..." brings up "Manziel" even before "Johnny Depp."

But wait, O Texas A&M Tantalus. Tick tock! You can clear the aggiean stables and climb Olympus. But not just now. No. You are marooned, both in space (College Station) and in time (RS soph), in a limbo so profound that Rush should write a song about you.

In a few weeks' time, things could happen, on an actual football field, that will make all of this wink into an asterisk and drop into a file somewhere, only for you to stumble across it years later, then feel suddenly old. The very words you're reading will be dust. Johnny Manziel is not just able, but likely to do things shortly that will sweep away the fever swamp of the football-less summer with ever-higher statistics, the roar of the crowd, and the soggy blattings of that obsolete marching band.

But soon is not enough. Young people are all about right now, and right now, Manziel can't seem to forget Austin, the way Karen Lynn Gorney still pined for John Travolta even after she wound up in the back seat with those two mooks, poor girl.

Like me, you are probably something of an authority on beer cans. That one that Manziel almost caught with his right ear? Wasn't exactly empty, was it? You can tell from the sound. His shirt is soaked, too. Not in a sweat pattern. Looks like someone gave him a Budweiser baptism.

Is that any way to treat someone who's carrying a torch for you?

I'm not saying that his boozing and brawling are cries for help, I'm saying that they're utterly unremarkable, as any drive through West Campus on a Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Parents' Day night will plainly show. If Manziel had gotten what he wanted, Ash's job, those would be our Fulmer Cup points. The world would still turn, the beer at Scholtz's would still be cold, and the young women crossing at 24th St. and Guadalupe would still cause traffic accidents.

If you want to hate him: fine. Johnny Manziel joined the Boys in Merlot. Despise him, therefore. Content yourself with the fact that the only burnt orange he will ever wear is what he can buy for himself. He can buy a lot of it, but it will never be enough. And that's why Johnny F@ck-All is having a little trouble giving a shit right now, OK?

Punch your ticket and go to the NFL. And godspeed, you poor bastard.