Johnny Manziel: antithetical Tim Tebow + Social Media Saturation


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You probably think Johnny Manziel is over-covered. And you may have a point.

However, when you have the first freshman Heisman trophy winner in history, who plays in the most football obsessed state in the country, and comes from fourth generation big oil money, and he “parties” a lot, gets in trouble for his “partying,” commits “party fouls” and then even takes to Twitter when he’s freshly completed “partying”…how can you not write about that?

He’s J.D. McCoy from “Friday Night Lights” except more extreme than fiction. Peter Berg is very talented, but Johnny Manziel is more colorful than a television character.

As the hype machine begins rolling today for #1 Alabama vs #6 Texas A&M it will be ten times what we had last week for Michigan vs Notre Dame. And that game was pretty blown out of proportion. This college football game actually has national title implications; unlike ND versus UM. And it has Johnny Manziel, who is the biggest name in all of college sports. Probably, the biggest media star in college sports history.

There was Tim Tebow mania. However, he was a choir boy, and his prime didn’t occur during the social media age.(Yes, I am in fact saying that Tebow is past his prime now.)

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“With Tebow he was polarizing the opposite way, he was polarizing in an interesting way. He was too good to be true, too good of a teammate, people just couldn’t believe that this could be real,” CBS Analyst Gary Danielson said on conference call yesterday.

Danielson will call #BAMAvsTAMU on CBS at 2:30 CDT, alongside Verne Lundquist. Tracy Wolfson will work the sidelines.

Lundquist on Johnny Manziel: “He’s proven to be a very mesmerizing player on the field, kind of dazzling with his ability to scramble and do more with his feet, and his passing game. And he’s become the most polarizing athlete in college football, college sports probably. All the offseason incidents have received so much attention, and he seems to be the kind of guy that would thumb his nose at authority.”

“There is, in my view a sense of entitlement about him. And all of which make him the subject of a lot of curiosity. For me, it honestly begins with what he does on the football field.”

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Tracy Wolfson on Johnny Manziel: “I think social media itself blows everything out of proportion to begin with, and I think Verne mentioned this at the top, without all of these avenues, we might not see all of this taking place behind the scenes with Johnny Manziel. We’d probably only be seeing what happens on the field, but we do see what happens off the field and there’s a lot of judgment that goes into it and a lot of questions of why and how.”

More from Danielson on Johnny Manziel: “You can’t take your eyes off him on when he’s on the field, much like a Joe Namath or a Magic Johnson, he seems to command your attention during the game. Tracy’s hit on it too, because I’ve been trying to contemplate this too. I came into this when Tebow came into the league as a freshman.

And Tim hit the SEC right when the blogosphere and talk radio really hit momentum around our country. And you didn’t have to go through traditional media to do a story. You could do your own talk show or blog and write whatever you want.”

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Yes, Johnny Manziel is a lot more interesting than Tim Tebow, and as polarizing as Tebow is, Manziel is even more love ‘em or love to hate ‘em. And now the story of the story of Johnny Manziel coverage has become a story.

How meta.

We’re with an eye looking back at itself. (Guess it’s coincidental that an eye is the CBS logo). Here’s just a small sample of Johnny Manziel headlines from this past summer:

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-destroy golf clubs in anger in the middle at elite country clubs.

-appearing  in a country music video with your then bikini model girlfriend Sarah Savage

-breaking up with your bikini model girlfriend Sarah Savage because you think she’s using you for your publicity
-flashing the hundos at the casino

-getting kicked out of a frat party at University of Texas

“He’s Dennis Rodman if he can’t play. But he can play, he goes out there and he competes, some people polarize against him and some people are like yeah that’s the way I want to be, a renegade,” Danielson said.

“I’ve been trying to rack my brain and come up with another player in college football history that has become bigger than the program and to me that’s what Johnny Manziel is,” Wolfson said.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter  (@paulmbanks)

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