Manziel, Romo have similar problems with new found fame
In the history of college football, no player has ever needed the season to start as much Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. His improbable and meteoric rise to stardom during the 2012 season has afforded him the type of notoriety that most 20-year-olds couldn't fathom.
Manziel's remarkable story is still being written, but he's added an ugly chapter this offseason in the aftermath of turning the Aggies into a national powerhouse and winning a Heisman. This week alone, both ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated delved into Manziel's private and public life.
The picture that has emerged is a young man who both craves – and abhors – all the attention he's receiving. He knows all too well that every move he makes will be funneled through a massive media machine, but it hasn't stopped him from making some poor decisions. If he doesn't think his early exit from the famed Manning Passing Academy will be investigated thoroughly by every team in the NFL, he's kidding himself.
But while Manziel is jetting across the country to meet up with Drake and LeBron, he should mix in a trip to see Tony Romo. Fortunately for Romo, he was already 25 when Bill Parcells inserted him into the starting quarterback role with the Dallas Cowboys. He had played college football in relative obscurity at Eastern Illinois, and ended up with the Cowboys in part because he shared an alma mater with Sean Payton. But just because Romo had a few years on Manziel, it doesn't mean he was prepared for what hit him in 2006.
In addition to playing quarterback for the most polarizing team in the NFL, he decided to enter the world of celebrity dating. He ended a relationship with a woman who wanted to be an optician (or maybe he got dumped) so that he could begin dating rising country music star Carrie Underwood. This relationship lasted right up until a former Dallas area youth pastor named Joe Simpson wormed his way into Romo's world. And thus began the very public romance between Romo and Jessica Simpson.
Romo led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record in 2007 while putting up remarkable numbers, but to this day he's remembered for the trip he took to Cabo during the playoff bye weekend to frolick with Joe and Jessica. If the Cowboys had beat the Giants in that divisional playoff game, the Cabo story would've gone away immediately. But that's not what happened, of course.
Romo had to learn the hard way that perception really does matter, although it took a couple more years for him to truly admit it. Over the last week, Manziel has taken to Twitter to remind his followers that winning is the only thing that matters. And if the Aggies beat Alabama beat Sept. 14 and then race toward a BCS Championship, perhaps Manziel will have the last laugh. But for now, Manziel has set himself up for a remarkable fall. He was already facing long odds when it came to repeating or surpassing his performance from last season.
If Manziel plays poorly against the Crimson Tide, all the nonsense from this past offseason will be thrown in his face. In a somewhat related note, Manziel's parents aren't doing him any favors. For example, his mother Michelle talked about why she didn't think he could return to A&M for the 2014 season.
"It's sad that the system doesn't allow it," she told Sports Illustrated. "We can't go through this another year. We would all be in the loony bin."
To his credit, Johnny didn't agree with that assessment. He thinks the family could adjust to the situation. But it seems odd that parents complaining about all the publicity seem to be doing a steady stream of interviews.
Somehow Tim Tebow and Robert Griffin III kept their lives intact after winning a Heisman. Griffin never had a chance to defend his Heisman because he gave up his final year of eligibility. But Tebow came back and played his senior year.
Manziel desperately needs for fall camp to begin so that he can have some structure in his life. And if he could work in a phone call to Romo, that could also help.
Maybe Romo could explain to Manziel why he's decided never to open a Twitter account.