The day you lose everything is the day you’ll know who your real friends are.
While no one will ever mistake me for being an A&M fan, I am a fan of the kind of compassion that goes a long way in saving those who are experiencing despair and despondency. It’s likely all of us have had such experiences and for those who haven’t, it’s only a matter of time. There’s simply no escaping it. Hitting rock bottom is scary, lonely, empty and painful. It can also be very dark. That said, not all is lost … usually. With even a shred of faith, an ounce of strength, a loving family and if but one friend, rock bottom can become the springboard to a fulfilling life.
Johnny Manziel is a 23-year-old with as much money as he has talent. He’s a kid who has felt the searing heat of the spotlight and the suffocating swarm of those wanting to bask in its residual warmth. He’s also terribly misguided. For all intents and purposes, No. 2 is neck deep in the raging waters of a turbulent sea that’s determined to drown him. And, from where I sit, there seems to be no lifelines.
There are plenty of folks out there, some fully onboard the “Johnny Football” bandwagon a few years ago, who’ve jumped off so as to get a bird’s eye view of the train wreck occurring in slow motion. Those around him on draft day have realized that those bright lights are, in fact, glowing heat lamps designed to subtly burn anyone under them and that supporting Johnny isn’t really all that special anymore. Like Johnny, they’ve discovered that behind said lamps lie the relentless, merciless national media. As others have said, and far too many have learned, it’s true that if the media makes you, the media can break you. Such is the case with Manziel.
The sad truth in all of this is that Johnny Manziel has no one to blame but himself. The harsh truth is that consequences await and the pain may get worse before it gets better. You hit a woman, you pay the price. You let your teammates down and they will abandon you. You drink and drive and you shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel for as long as it takes for you to grow up. The lifesaving truth is that Manziel needs what’s coming as long as there are those who will stick by him through every bit of it. He doesn’t need a dad telling the media that he hopes his son lives to see his 24th birthday. As far as I’m concerned, such a declaration says a lot about how Johnny ended up where he is. Manziel needs real friends who will hold his hand as they hold him accountable. He needs to step away from football for a while and let rock bottom serve as his launching pad when the time comes. His pal, Super Bowl MVP and former teammate, Von Miller, said as much last week and he’s right.
In the name of full disclosure, I’ve referred to Manziel in variety of descriptive ways through the years. You can’t be a diehard ‘Bama fan and like Johnny Football. You just can’t. The talent he showcased in Tuscaloosa was phenomenal. It was also maddening for those of us wearing crimson. I’ll never forget the experience.
Fast forward to spring 2016, and the perch on top of the world is gone, and Johnny needs help – a lot of it. More than anything, he needs the penetrating grace of a merciful God who blessed him with extraordinary talent and he needs more of us pulling for him rather than stepping on him. I hope Johnny Manziel finds the answer to his challenges and that at some point in the future, near or far, he can excite us all again by what he does on the field. More importantly though, I hope my young son can one day see how Johnny made it back to a life of significance and contribution and that no one is ever counted out unless they themselves do the counting. Johnny deserves a chance – a chance to become a great young man on the field of life. In doing so, he can save those who will, no doubt, follow the same dark path to rock bottom. It is there that each of them will find the hope they need.
Beating ‘Bama was remarkable. That win, as memorable as any for Manziel and the A&M faithful, pales in comparison to the victory I hope he experiences in the years to come.
You can do it, Johnny. You can do it.
Scott Brooks serves as the publisher of the Waxahachie Daily Light. Contact Scott at 469-517-1440 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottBrooks1405