A nervous-looking Johnny Manziel, left, stares at the throngs of media members waiting on him to enter the interview room Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Manziel, the polarizing young quarterback from Texas A&M, has been making a lot of headlines since becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman a year ago — and some haven’t been that good.
HOOVER, Ala. — Well, he wasn’t necessarily forthcoming and he wasn’t really contrite, but controversial Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel did step up and face the music for recent actions that have painted him in a negative light.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner sat in front of cameras on ESPN’s SportsCenter and a crush of print media at SEC Football Media Days on Wednesday to explain his behavior this summer. Manziel left the Manning Passing Camp this past weekend for not fulfilling his responsibilities as a coach and counselor there and has been unleashing controversial tweets.
Speculation swirled that he was dismissed from the Manning Camp because he’d been partying the night before he was scheduled to take the field.
“There’s been a lot of talk and I’ve been very eager to get a chance to share my side of the story,” Manziel said.
“The main thing was I missed a meeting. It wasn’t anything due to the night prior,” Manziel added. “It wasn’t anything involved (with) that. It was just simply my phone died, I overslept, I woke up the next morning whenever I did, went to talk to them and it was kind of a mutual decision to get home and get some time to relax.”
The 20-year-old denied being hung over.
“Absolutely not,” he said. But he would not acknowledge whether not he drank alcohol.
“I’m not going into details about what happened at the Manning Camp,” he said. “We had social events every night. I got a chance to really socialize, a chance to talk with Eli and Peyton (Manning) off the field and get to pick their brains, Archie, all those guys. There are so many experiences that are valuable to us as college quarterbacks.
Manziel admitted that he’s struggled at times to deal with his celebrity since becoming the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy last December, saying at times he felt like pop star Justin Bieber, who can’t go anywhere without hoards of photographers snapping off pictures of his every move.
“I feel like I am on a little bit higher pedestal than most people in college football,” Manziel said. “But at the same time, I’m still 20 years old, I’m still a sophomore in college, I’m still going to do things that everybody in college does and I’m going to enjoy my life. Hopefully, people don’t hold me to a higher standard than that because I am still in college and I’m still going to live my life to the fullest.”
As for his reputation as somewhat of a college bad boy, he said: “I think I brought a little bit of it on myself. I’ve put things out there that, to me and to everybody else, is stuff I always wanted to do and maybe it rubbed people a little bit of the wrong way. Going back and bickering with people on Twitter might make you feel better but it doesn’t really get anything done.”