The arrest in 2012, obvious frustration dealing with his newfound celebrity status after winning the Heisman Trophy, trouble with the NCAA and on field demeanor have all been well chronicled. With that said Johnny Manziel believes he has grown from his experiences and believes he is better for them. He addressed off the field concerns by saying, ”Obviously there was some scrutiny off the field, but I’m learning from my mistakes and continuing to grow up. I have an opportunity now going into a professional phase, this is life now, this is a job for me and I’m very excited about the future.”
Last summer reports surfaced that Manziel sought out counseling for alcohol and anger management. When these findings were brought to his attention, he responded, “No I don’t believe that to be true at all. Last spring coach Sumlin came to me and wanted me to meet with an in house guy. I was more than willing to sit down with him and learn whatever I could from him and those continued through the next couple of years. I had a great relationship with him and it was really nothing more than that.” When pressed about the issue he could not remember the title of the counselor, however it was commendable of him to consistently meet with a counselor, which likely enabled him to cope with his meteoric rise to fame.
When asked about his ability as a leader, the former Texas A&M quarterback pointed to his last game in an Aggies uniform, “I think you can go back and ask my teammates about when we needed to make a play they would want the ball in my hands.” Manziel continued, “I think a great example is the Duke game. It wasn’t really looking as great as we wanted it to in the 1st half, but between me Mike (Evans) and some of these seniors we had to get the troops rallied. We said no matter how deep, how dark it looked on the scoreboard, keep plugging away and the ball would eventually bounce our way and it did.”
To underscore his point Manziel was seen on the sideline encouraging his team to make a stop and they responded, which certainly speaks to his ability as a leader. Manziel would add, “ I think the guys on my team know that I’ll do anything and everything for them until there’s no time on the clock, on or off the field.”
When asked what separates him from the other quarterbacks in this class, he pointed to his competitiveness saying, “I feel like I play the game with a lot of heart and a lot of passion that really is unrivaled. It’s the way I was brought up; it’s the way that I was taught. I really started playing competitive football in high school. My coach at Kerrville Tivy treated everybody the same no matter who you were and he really taught me to fight to the very end and show no weakness.”
The fact that he plays the game with such passion certainly has a cascading effect on his teammates, which alleviates leadership concerns for many. Not only has he shown that he is a vocal leader, he also leads by example on the field. Being a Heisman Trophy winner he was afforded the opportunity to reach out to Cam Newton who advised him on keeping a good support system around him. Manziel would go on to say, “He was a very fun loving good natured guy and I was very thankful to be able to pick up the phone and call him if I ever did need anything.” He also revealed that he has been communicating with Tom Brady who has really given him good advice both on and off the field.
Manziel being picked No. 1 overall is a real possibility. With that in mind, fans as well as NFL decision makers would like to know if he’s willing to change his lifestyle to become the face of a franchise. When the question regarding sacrifice and potential lifestyle change was posed to him, he responded, “When I decided to make the decision to turn professional, I knew it was time to really put my college years in the past. This is a job now. There are guys (player’s) families, coaches’ families and jobs and all kinds of things on the line. For me it won’t be a hard thing to kick or a hard thing to not do. I’m extremely focused on whatever organization I’ll be at and really pouring my heart out trying to be football 24/7 with that team.”
Spending nearly 15 minutes at the podium answering questions, which is far longer than usual; Manziel seemed extremely comfortable in his skin. He didn’t shy away from questions regarding his past and he certainly seemed willing to trade in the party life in order to become the face of an NFL franchise. Now cognizant of the importance of surrounding himself with great people and that being a NFL quarterback is a full-time job; Manziel is dedicated to making the requisite changes which will allow NFL teams to feel comfortable taking him in the 2014 NFL draft sooner rather than later.
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