Inside this Week’s Sports Illustrated: Johnny Football Speaks

32COVmanzpromoA year ago, Johnny Manziel was simply trying to win the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M. After a historic Heisman Trophy season, he is now learning that being Johnny Football is a 24/7 gig with many perks and a few pitfalls too. In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, on newsstands now, Manziel discusses his image, his mistakes, his struggles with fame, his future and more. Manziel, who sat down with senior writer Andy Staples for an exclusive interview last week at his parents’ house in Bryan, Texas, appears on a regional cover of this week’s SI. Staples describes on SI.com about his experience tracking down Manziel here.

“I probably rubbed people the wrong way in some cases,” Manziel says, “but at the end of the day, people are mad at me and people are upset at me because I’m doing everything they want to do.” (PAGES 28–30) People were upset last month when Manziel tweeted about his desire to leave College Station after getting a parking ticket, and while he takes full responsibility for his dismissal from the Manning Passing Academy in July, he remains shocked by the response. “I oversleep at the Manning camp, and there’s a weeklong special,” Manziel says. (PAGE 31)

“I’m adapting. I’m learning. I’m trying to learn from these mistakes,” he says. “But I’m not going to change who I am because the media wants me to be this, this or this. I’m not going to do that. . . . You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon,” Manziel says. “What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field. I’m still learning how to put that into perspective.” (PAGE 32)

Manziel says he and his family are still struggling to adapt to his fame. “That probably is what’s getting us in trouble—wanting to be normal,” Manziel says. “We want to be just like we’ve always been, where none of this is a big deal.” (PAGE 30) When he won the Heisman, he had no idea how much his life would change. “I never knew what that trophy would do,” Manziel says. “I never knew the power of it.” (PAGE 31) To help cope with his newfound fame, Manziel asked his coach, Kevin Sumlin, for help. Sumlin set him up this past February with a therapist to work on dealing with stress and on how to say no to autograph and photo requests.

Will Manziel say no to the NFL draft after this season? His own mother, Michelle, doesn’t see how he can stay in school. “It’s sad that the system doesn’t allow it,” she says. “We can’t go through this another year. We would all be in the loony bin.” Johnny says he could handle another year. “There’s so much that factors in,” Manziel says. “I don’t want to be a guy who has a first-round grade and come out and go into the second round. That’s the difference between $12 million and $4 million or $5 million. That’s still a lot of money, obviously, but not when you have two full years left on the table.” (PAGE 32)

Along the way, Manziel has crossed off many items on his bucket list, such as rubbing elbows with stars like Drake and LeBron James. “When we look back 20, 30 years down the road, we’re going to sit there and be like, We pretty much hung out with the f—–’ Beatles,” Manziel says. “We pretty much did everything we wanted to do.” (PAGE 32) After experiencing so much on and off the field, what does he dream of now? “Being the best player to ever play college football,” says Manziel. (PAGE 32)


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