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'I’m Johnny Manziel, and You’re Not': An Imagined Speech | The Nation

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Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin

Where sports and politics collide.

'I’m Johnny Manziel, and You’re Not': An Imagined Speech


Johnny Manziel. (Reuters/Adam Hunger)

The NCAA mandated that Texas A&M’s Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel had to give a speech detailing all the life lessons he learned during his scandal-plagued summer. Here is a fictional accounting of what he might say.

Hey, fellas. You might have heard that after all the drama about me getting paid all kinds of dollars for my autograph, the hammer came down and the NCAA gave me my punishment. So here’s the deal. I am going to be suspended for one whole half of one game. That’s right. One half. But that’s not all. Part of the punishment is that I am required to explain to you—my team—all the lessons that I have learned this off-season. Yup, the NCAA wants to turn this into a Very Special Episode of Good Luck Charlie or some kind of after-school special. So let’s do it.

I’m happy to finally have the opportunity to tell you everything that I have learned this summer. It comes down to one big ol’ life lesson. I learned, after much reflection, that if you are Johnny F—king Football and you put butts in the seats and your school is ploughing $450 million into decking out your college stadium so it will seat 100,000 people and be a “megaphone to the world” and boosters will pay $20,000 to smell your chair when you get up to go to the bathroom, then you can do pretty much whatever the hell you want. Hell, I could sign my name on [NCAA President] Mark Emmert’s head in a “Free Jerry Sandusky” T-shirt while T. Boone Pickens shoves hundred-dollar bills in my pants, and I still would have gotten only this bullshit half-game suspension. Pays to be rich. Pays to be white. Pays to be QB One. Pays to be me.

I mean, you had sports columnists out there who wanted that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor—a black dude—tarred and feathered a couple years ago for trading his own jacket for some free tattoos, and those same sports writers are comparing me to Rosa Parks! Me! Johnny Manziel! I’m Rosa Parks, beeyotches! I had to ask my boy Drake who that even was. He didn’t know, but when I looked it up… Damn! Media peoples are crazy! Shit, I guess I’m buttering their bread too.

Look: most of you grew up poor as shit and after four years as a Texas A&M Aggie, you won’t graduate and you will still be poor as shit. That is, assuming if you make it four years. You get injured on that next play, they’ll have campus security to keep you from even going to class. Also, a whole bunch of you are black. And that’s cool. My boy Drake is black. And I’m Rosa Parks, so we cool. But straight up, if you did what I did, your ass would be on the next bus back to whatever ghetto or shit town you were born in. Dang the NCAA is more gangster than my boy Drake and my girl Miley combined. I know DRAKE, yo!

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Look: the NCAA has a $6 billion college football deal with ESPN. They’re not messing with that by not having me on that field. Ya’ll are replaceable. Ya’ll are meat to them. I’m meat too. But at least I know I’m prime rib. You are hamburger. I guess we all end up in the same place, but in the meantime, I’d rather be prime rib. That’s for damn sure.

In conclusion, here’s what I learned: sucks to be you, great to be me. I’m Johnny Manziel, and you’re not. Oh, and the NCAA can eat me. Now let’s go play some football.

No, Johnny Manziel is not Rosa Parks.

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