Johnny Manziel’s life is like an ad campaign for some yet-to-be-created clothing brand. Someday, there is going to be a glossy catalog full of Manziel’s Instagram photos placed stragetically next to jeans and logo Ts and colorful board shorts.
He’s been on spring break for what feels like a month now, and it’s been a steady stream of half-empty tequila bottles raised skyward like trophies and young women in bikinis leaning into the photos to get a little shine on them. The facts of it all are not that unusual. This is more or less how American college students without jobs spend their spring breaks. But as with playing quarterback, it just looks a little different when Manziel does it.
That he self-publishes his exploits to 330,000 Twitter followers is interesting for multiple reasons, but the biggest one is that it makes him the first real celebrity college athlete. Yes, there have been other college athletes with Manziel’s level of name recognition (Matt Leinart and Tim Tebow come to mind), but none has ever exploited the Internet to make himself famous quite like Manziel has. Whether it’s hanging out with rappers or NBA players or holding bottles in swanky clubs, Manziel documents it for the masses. The effect of it is, he’s famous for winning the Heisman Trophy but he’s also famous for simply “being Johnny Football.” Every Gen Y kid with a Facebook account thinks his lifestyle is interesting to other people. Manziel is one of the few people who is actually right about that. Johnny Manziel is what everybody else thinks they are.
And, man, it looks like he had a good spring break.
What made it out to the masses were a few photos of him receiving cheek kisses from pretty girls. There is reason to believe he trolled the media, his own fans and somehow also the University of Texas by getting a temporary tattoo of a Longhorn on his rib cage, then flashing the hook-em horns in another photo. (What, exactly, was going on there has not yet been sorted out). The rest of it amounts to your standard spring break shenanigans, and you get the feeling Manziel is documenting just the right amount of the story.
For now, there is nothing being bought or sold or promoted, except for the extraordinary life of a Heisman Trophy winner in 2013.