Pat Higgins | Asst. Sports Editor
Wednesday afternoon, former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer called former Texas A&M quarterback turned NFL prospect Johnny Manziel “an arrogant little prick” on CBS Sports Radio 920 AM in St. Louis.
“I’m gonna tell you. I said Johnny Manziel is … I don’t like his antics. I think he’s an arrogant little prick,” Switzer said. “I’ve said that and I’ll say it again. He’s a privileged kid, he’s embarrassed himself, he’s embarrassed his teammates, his program. He’s embarrassed his coach. And they’ll all have to defend him because they have to coach. I know that. I spent 40 years in the damn game so I know how it works.”
Let’s get a few things straight here in regards to Barry Switzer’s comments. Manziel is privileged because his father is a highly successful businessman in the oil industry. He embarrassed no one other than those who simply wanted to see him fail by backing up his “arrogance” with some of the most electrifying performances and plays the sport has seen.
Manziel, informally known as “Johnny Football” for his on-field fireworks in the Southeastern Conference in the past two years, quickly became one of the most polarizing figures in sports at 20 years old, mostly because of what he did away from the field.
Let’s clarify. On June 28, 2012, Manziel was arrested and charged in the early morning hours with two misdemeanors: disorderly conduct by fighting and using a fake driver’s license. He later agreed to a plea agreement to pay the maximum fine of $2,000 and $232 in court costs, according to a report from The Bryan-College Station Eagle in July 2013.
Two months after the incident at the bar, Manziel was named the Aggies’ starting quarterback, and the legend of Johnny Football was born on a national scale. He then began his tear through the SEC in Texas A&M’s first two years in what is widely considered the most competitive conference in college football.
Fast forward two years. Manziel declared for the NFL Draft this winter after leading the Aggies to a 20-6 record. He finished his career in College Station with 7,820 yards, 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions through the air to go along with 2,169 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Along the way, he became the first freshman in college football history to win the Heisman, handed Alabama coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide their only loss in their 2012 national championship campaign in Tuscaloosa, and maintained a steady presence on social media.
He was a human highlight reel on the field and a magnet for criticism in the media and the realm of social media away from it, all before he turned 21. Over the summer, he made SportsCenter for getting kicked out of a University of Texas fraternity party. He was widely scrutinized for voicing his disgust after receiving a parking ticket and finding his Mercedes Benz keyed outside his house in College Station. He was the suspended for the first half of A&M’s season opener following an NCAA investigation that he allegedly accepted monetary compensation for signing memorabilia before the 2013 season.
Now he finds himself just over two months away from entering the NFL, while experts prod through his time at A&M debating the role his immaturity will play in his development.
The only reason anybody is still talking about Johnny Manziel is because he has the chance to now actually make money playing professionally. Switzer may think he’s arrogant, but that’s what happens when you fuse a Texas-sized ego with a gunslinger’s mentality in a place where football is only second to religion. He can now legally drink a beer and likely won’t be attending any fraternity parties anytime soon.
So let’s give the “Johnny Football is a spoiled little bastard” talk a rest. Or don’t, because the 5-foot-11 gunslinger is used to it. And from what we’ve seen in his time in College Station, he really doesn’t care.