By the attention given, you’d think college football superstar Johnny Manziel was in a similar situation to Aaron Hernandez. Manziel and his head coach Kevin Sumlin were the focus of Wednesday morning in Birmingham, Alabama, for the second day of SEC Media Days.
Sumlin addressed the room of 1,200 credentialed media members by giving a high level update on the momentum of the Texas A&M football program. Listing the benefits of the last 12 months of football success Sumlin discussed increased college applicants and massive donations fueling upgraded facilities and stadium expansion projects. The topic of his superstar QB didn’t come up until the media had the opportunity to ask questions.
When questioned about Manziel, Sumlin made it clear that on the field, he’s been exceptional. Off the field, he’s made some mistakes. Pretty straight forward.
Some members of the media such as ESPN’s Paul Finebaum weren’t satisfied with Sumlin’s address. Finebaum even questioned if Sumlin is ultimately the problem at Texas A&M. Most fans would find such an idea to be ridiculous. Is Sumlin’s job to dance to the media’s tune or to represent the Aggie football program and speak to its current state and success? I’d suggest the latter despite how much the media decries the style of Sumlin.
Manziel had a busy morning himself by first joining the ESPN crew on live television to answer tough questions about the incident at the Manning camp. He admitted that he made mistakes by sleeping in and missing meetings, however wouldn’t address anything regarding drinking or being hungover.
When faced with the media masses, Manziel seemed even less apologetic stating several times that he’s a 20 year old and will continue to live his life. When asked how it might change in the immediate future, he explained that lifestyle always changes due to the approaching season.
Overall, Manziel and Sumlin both did their job to directly address the media where possible and deflect details where necessary. Both individuals handle themselves very well on camera with confidence while having microphones shoved their faces.
Unfortunately for athletes in today’s era of media, small incidents become large incidents overnight; however, there’s a silver lining. Fans and media also move on more quickly than ever to the next story. It’s likely that the string of Manziel incidents this past offseason are now firmly in our rear view mirror. The media will shift its focus to more recent headlines and eventually, yes, to actual football.