By Parrish Alford
HOOVER, Ala. – Johnny Manziel, speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, admitted making mistakes – but he didn’t admit that hearty partying near New Orleans led to an encouraged early exit from the Manning Passing Academy.
The Texas A&M quarterback – the reigning Heisman Trophy winner as a sophomore – is this year’s SEC rock star.
He appeared on the ESPN set of “College Football Live,” then drew the largest throng of media around his corner table in the ballroom before being whisked away from SEC Media Days to attend ESPN’s ESPYs program in Los Angeles.
Manziel missed mandatory workouts and meetings at the Manning Academy, which was held at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. He said he overslept because his cell phone was dead. The decision for him to leave the camp was mutual, he said.
“The speculation of me being too hungover to show up to meetings the next day and that’s the reason I missed was absolutely incorrect,” he said. “I was not asked to leave. It was a mutual decision.”
The Manning Academy is one recent example of Manziel behavior in the spotlight.
He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for failing to properly identify himself to police after a fight in College Station, Texas. The fight took place a year ago.
He didn’t name his mistakes, but he’s lived a high-profile life on Twitter, at the NBA finals, the Super Bowl and other events over the last year.
He doesn’t intend to change.
“I’m not going for a Miss America pageant. I’m playing football. I’m a 20-year-old kid in college. Take that for what it’s worth. I’m enjoying my life, continue to live life to the fullest, and I hope that doesn’t upset too many people,” Manziel said.
Neither he nor Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and school officials were prepared for how bright the spotlight would be after Manziel won the Heisman.
He pointed out that he’s the first returning Heisman winner with three years of eligibility remaining.
“Off the field there’s no question that he’s made some mistakes,” Sumlin said. “Our discipline policy, we handle things in-house. By no means are we perfect with how we do things. Is he perfect? No. He’s made good decisions, but the poor ones are the ones that are really scrutinized.”