In the past week, the only story that hasn’t changed about Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s exit from the Manning Passing Academy last weekend is our own.
That’s because it happens to be the truth. But even our source with ties to the camp, who was tuned in well enough to know what was going on, didn’t have access to all the story’s details. Friday afternoon we were contacted by another source who is even more well-connected to the camp’s inner workings and therefore needs to remain unnamed. This person not only verified that what our original source had was completely true, but shared with us new information regarding the details of Manziel’s departure.
Basically it boils down to this: Manziel apparently lied to his own mother about his reason for missing camp meetings on Saturday morning, misled the media on SEC Media Day and threw Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron under the bus by forcing him to answer questions about why he didn’t wake Manziel up on Saturday morning. What McCarron had to avoid saying was the truth: he couldn’t wake Manziel up, because Manziel wasn’t in their room.
No one knows for sure where Manziel slept on Friday night, and the exact location is probably none of our damn business. But we do know it wasn’t at a Nicholls State dorm with roomie McCarron. It was reported to Archie Manning that Johnny Football was last seen somewhere on Bourbon Street in New Orleans at around 4 a.m. (The Nicholls campus is about an hour drive from New Orleans).
This was Johnny’s first mistake. Not necessarily going to New Orleans, but lying about it to Archie, who had already been informed by a friend that Manziel was out on Bourbon. Basically Manning gave Manziel the chance to explain himself the next day when Archie already knew full well what had happened and where he was — classic parent move! — but Manziel chose not to tell the truth.
Even so, Archie was not the driving force behind Manziel’s departure. That was Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens, who was formerly at Tulane and is in charge of making the schedules and drawing up the counseling assignments for the many college quarterbacks who run drills for the high school players at the camp. Teevens thought it was unfair for Manziel to be kept around for the final day-and-a half of the camp when the rest of the quarterbacks in attendance had shown up to all scheduled meetings and put the work in. Our source said that Manziel missed or was late to “every” staff meeting, including on Friday. Archie came to agree with Teevens’ vantage point and Manziel was sent home.
Our source noted that the decision was not unanimous because they knew it would not be long before word got out. Though names were not named, it could be inferred that Peyton and Eli were probably in that boat.
The excuse of Manziel feeling ill was given in hopes that the matter would just die there, but thanks to us and our original source, it did not.
The only minor detail missed by our original source is that it was Teevens, not Archie, who informed Manziel he was being sent home. It was then that Manziel lied to the second authority figure in this story, telling his mother that he overslept and McCarron did not wake him up. The oversleeping line would be repeated when he appeared in front of the media at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. on Wednesday.
The whole scenario put McCarron in an awkward spot when he was forced to answer questions about Manziel on Thursday, and now his answer reads even more interestingly.
I can’t answer on Johnny Manziel’s part. My name is A.J. Everything that has to do with him, he’s his own man. I’m not going to speak on another man’s business. That’s how I was raised. If it don’t have nothing to do with you, don’t speak on it. I know how I handle myself out in public, how I carry myself in front of people. That’s what I’m worried about, trying to be the best player and the best person off the field that I can be for my family and the University of Alabama. I never want to disrespect them in any way.
Given the facts we now know, McCarron’s statement reads as much like an indictment of Manziel as it is a defense of himself. Though he took accountability for “oversleeping,” Manziel still spoke of another man’s business by indicating McCarron didn’t wake him up. Manziel is the one with questions about how he is handling himself in public, and whether he’s embarrassed his family or his university. This makes for a very interesting sub-plot to an Alabama-Texas A&M game that’s already being hyped through the roof in July.
In Manziel’s defense, it’s not like he was at choir camp. Our original source estimated “95 percent” of the college quarterbacks in attendance go out and tear it up on the nights they are at the Manning Camp, and our second source backed that. That’s why the original story reported by ESPN states that Manziel was not sent home for “partying”, as they would have to send just about everybody home if that were the reason. It’s summer and they’re college kids, so anyone worked up about that detail is not anyone we’d ever want to hang out with.
The difference is everyone else shook off the previous night and gave the roughly 1,200 high school kids in attendance the kind of attention their parents paid for.
Our source also backed up the statement made by Peyton Manning, who said “Johnny was great with the campers for the time he was here.” When he did work, he was great with the kids. There was no half-assing it in that regard. He just did not take his responsibilities as seriously as everyone else who was invited by the Mannings.
We have no bone to pick with Johnny Football. Watching him play is a joy. But there is a lesson to be learned by him from this episode.
As a child of privilege — he is the fourth generation in a family of Texas oil money — chances are Manziel hasn’t faced many serious consequences for his actions growing up. Being a star quarterback at a Texas high school, then at A&M, and then the first freshman quarterback to win the Heisman has only enhanced his ability to “get away with it.”
In the NFL, they don’t care who your daddy is. Actions will have consequences. He can still have a good time like anybody else his age, but if he thinks he can get away with lying about things like his whereabouts on Bourbon Street to someone with as many powerful New Orleans connections as Archie Manning, he either needs to get a lot smarter or a lot humbler. Maybe a little bit of both.
Otherwise, he’ll learn the NFL is a No Fools League the hard way.
*Multiple staff members contributed to this report
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