This is Paul Manziel, speaking about his son Johnny Manziel’s relatively newfound celebrity:
"Yeah, it could come unraveled. And when it does, it’s gonna be bad. Real bad."
The elder Manziel and Texas A&M star quarterback revealed themselves to the world with great candor in this story by Wright Thompson on ESPN.com. In the piece, the younger Manziel is depicted as confused, immature and angry about the pressures associated with his enormous fame.
Paul Manziel comes off like a man desperate to help a 20-year-old son he still sees, in many respects, as a boy.
“He ate Skittles, drank beer and won the Heisman Trophy,” Paul told Thompson.
What happened along the way has turned Manziel into one of the most famous athletes in America — a guy who goes to hang out with the rapper Drake not so much because he’s trying to become a celebrity, but because he already is one.
Manziel has sometimes dealt with his fame by getting angry — something that appears to be in his blood. His father, Paul, also has a hot temper.
Thompson writes: “A lack of self-awareness in Paul — the clear knowledge that he still struggles with some of the issues he wants his son to conquer — casts another shadow on Johnny’s challenge.”
This, according to the piece, has created a rift between the Manziel family and the Texas A&M athletic department that boils down to this: The Manziels believe their son’s welfare is A&M’s No. 2 priority, right behind capitalizing on his fame.
Much of the piece centers around golf outings between father and son. Johnny seems always on the verge of tossing a club or snapping it, and this rage bothers his father.
"I don’t enjoy playing golf with him because I don’t want to see that temper," he said. "I honestly do not. I cringe when he wants to play golf. I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to do it. Because he still needs love. He still needs guidance. He still needs to see he’s wrong — and how to control his temper.
“And if I give up on him, who’s gonna take over? The school sure the hell isn’t gonna do it."
While obvious, it should be pointed out that this is a story mediated by a writer and a news agency based on a few days of access. However that affects your view of it, so be it — but it is nonetheless difficult not to see the interview as a cry for help, or perhaps a cry for empathy
But as the Manziels are learning, empathizing with the famous is difficult for the unfamous to do.