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DeFranks: Manziel just lives a normal college life (Sept. 3)

Matthew DeFranks | Tuesday, September 3, 2013

You are a college kid. What did you do this past weekend?

I’m sure you enjoyed some drinks on Friday night before possibly engaging in some questionable decisions. On Saturday, I’m sure you tailgated before the game, whether you were legally allowed to or not. And on Saturday night? I’m sure the festivities continued.

So what makes your actions better than Johnny Manziel’s? They are not.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has been under the microscope like he was a new dinosaur species since he won college football’s biggest award. First came the pictures with James Harden and LeBron James. Then came the Drake concert. Then came the first pitches at Rangers and Padres games.

Then came the Manning Passing Academy dismissal. Then came the Texas frat party. Then came the autograph scandal. Then came the suspension.

And then, finally, Johnny Football played some, er, football in the second half of a season-opening 52-31 win over Rice on Saturday. So everything was back to normal, right?

Yes, but only if you include some trash talking and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty along with more touchdowns than incompletions. He was clearly not ready for the friendly banter from the Rice defenders and could have handled it better than gesturing an autograph motion. The scoreboard point, though, was the purest form of trash talk. Manziel’s actions simply said, “We’re better than you and we (and the scoreboard) know it.”

But all that is just fine with me. Manziel is 20 years old and is doing exactly what 20-year-olds do. They go out and drink and party. They would sit courtside and hit up concerts if they could. They like to trash-talk and rub it in (even in interhall sports, it’s true). As college students, no one knows that better than us.

Manziel is being accused as the most immature person out there but the fact is that we would all do the same things he has been doing. Plenty of us have drunk underage and a fair bit of us have fake IDs. Let’s not pretend that he’s doing stuff we have not done.

His autograph scandal still remains a bit shady, and that is just about the only thing I do not think he should have done. His one-half suspension was an odd decision by the NCAA, but when was the last time the NCAA did anything logically?

Maybe the only organization that has paid closer attention to Manziel than the NCAA has been ESPN. Manziel does not need to be on every segment of “SportsCenter” for two days in a row. His Instagram posts have no spot on a sports highlight show. His party plans do not belong on TMZ, let alone “PTI.” And his personal life should not be equated with his athletic career.

In fact, ESPN is partly to blame for all the Johnny Football hate. People just get tired of hearing about the same thing over and over again. Do you think it’s Tim Tebow’s and LeBron James’ fault that ESPN keeps them on television? No, but because they are, people begin to hate them, whether it’s warranted or not.

So what will Johnny Manziel do next weekend? Whatever it is, I’m sure he’ll be criticized for it, whether it’s warranted or not.

Meanwhile, you won’t be.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.