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JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
ANDY STAPLES
August 05, 2013
JOHNNY MANZIEL IS LEARNING THAT BEING JOHNNY FOOTBALL IS A 24/7 GIG WITH MANY PERKS BUT A FEW PITFALLS TOO. THE ONE HE KEEPS TRIPPING ON IS ACCEPTING THAT EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED
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August 05, 2013

Johnny On The Spot

JOHNNY MANZIEL IS LEARNING THAT BEING JOHNNY FOOTBALL IS A 24/7 GIG WITH MANY PERKS BUT A FEW PITFALLS TOO. THE ONE HE KEEPS TRIPPING ON IS ACCEPTING THAT EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED

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DREAMS TEND TO grow. What does the baby who finally crawls dream about? He dreams about walking. What does the third-grader who finally makes his first free throw dream about? Sinking his first three-pointer. What does the too-short, too-unpredictable quarterback who finally earns a scholarship to a power-conference school dream about?

We've met that guy. That was Johnny Manziel a year ago. He had been a cross between Fran Tarkenton and Paul Bunyan because of the miracles he worked on the field at Tivy High in Kerrville, but outside of Texas Hill Country hardly anyone knew his name. He had redshirted his first year at Texas A&M, and as his second season dawned he was set to enter an open quarterback competition. What did he dream about? "Just playing on the field in college," Manziel says. "If it was five snaps, 10 snaps a game, just stepping on the field and playing."

So what happens when that redshirt freshman plays more than five or 10 snaps a game? What happens when he wins the starting job, befuddles SEC defenses, changes the way we think about Scooby-Doo costumes, engineers a win against eventual national champion Alabama on its home field, leads the SEC in rushing while throwing for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns, becomes the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, helps his team crush Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, hangs with the Duck Dynasty guys at the Super Bowl, meets rapper Drake—who happens to be his version of John Lennon—meets LeBron James, throws out the first pitch for the Rangers and shoots 79 at Pebble Beach?

He makes a new bucket list, of course.

After several days in May spent training with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. in San Diego, Manziel, a.k.a. Johnny Football, sat aboard a Southwest jet bound for Texas with Nathan Fitch, a buddy from Kerrville who is Manziel's de facto personal assistant. With help from Fitch, Manziel began cataloging his dreams. Some of them, such as skydiving, predated the Heisman. Others were new. Among the entries:

• Attend a major soccer match. Maybe Manchester United versus Manchester City.

• Attend an NBA Finals game. (In June, he took in two in Miami.)

• Make his first million dollars.

• Donate $1 million.

• Go 100 mph in a boat. (Manziel did this recently on Lake Tyler in Texas on a boat owned by his grandfather. Fitch didn't wear sunglasses, and the rush of air peeled the contacts from his eyes. Manziel found the ride quite enjoyable.)

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