In a bizarre twist of events that began with an investigation with the NCAA, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has earned the ire of observers due to his behaviour in a game.
Sitting out the first half of Texas A&M's 52-31, Manziel entered the game in the second half and started trash-talking with a Rice player. Soon after, getting up after a tackle, he mimicked signing an autograph and rubbing his thumb and fingers together -- a clear allusion to the "sign-for-pay" issue that had him sitting out in the first place. In the fourth quarter, Manziel pointed at the scoreboard after throwing for a touchdown, which earned him a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. He would sit the rest of the game after throwing for 94 yards, rushing for 19, and throwing three touchdown passes -- a display worthy of a Heisman winner.
Reuters Notre Dame's Manti Te'o (L) and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel are the favorites for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o (L) and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel are the favorites for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.
Going back to the bench, he ignored Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin, who had a few words to say about his antics. Sumlin, though, played down what the media saw as recalcitrance.
"I basically made two statements to him, neither one of which should he have responded to ... The worst thing that could have happened was for him to reply based on what I told him," Sumlin told reporters in response to inquiries.
He also defended Manziel's "money" gesture, saying that players from both Texas A&M and other schools have been seen doing the same gesture since the 2011-2012 season.
Sumlin gathered his players for a post-game talk on Monday, stressing how penalties can affect the outcome of a game. It seems like Sumlin's job description also includes tempering Manziel's exuberance while keeping his enthusiasm for the game at a high level.
"Anybody who watches Johnny knows that he plays with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion," Sumlin said. "It's my job, it's our job as coaches to keep that passion and energy going, but make it positive."
In the meantime, Manziel is still under a gag order from Sumlin, something that is commonly seen only for freshman players. The coaching staff has indicated that it is not yet the right time for Manziel to talk to the media, mostly because of the fallout from the autograph issue.
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