HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has admittedly thrown himself into the fire of national criticism for his off-the-field actions in the past, and Wednesday at SEC Media Days he got to tell his side of the story in his first public comments since his much-talked-about early departure this past weekend from the Manning Passing Academy.
The Heisman Trophy-winning signal caller was calm and collected in front of cameras, saying the only reason he left camp was because he slept in late and missed a meeting — nothing more, nothing less.
“It’s been a busy summer for me,” said Manziel, who called it a mutual decision between himself and officials at the camp. “I probably bit off more than I can chew in July, been traveling, been going a lot of places. I just overslept. I made a mistake and didn’t wake up in time when I should have.
“That’s pretty much the end of that.”
Manziel said he was a college kid and going to do what normal college kids do despite his status as the first freshman to win the Heisman.
“I’m still going to live my life to the fullest,” Manziel said.
Manziel, who was to speak further with other media at the Wynfrey Hotel as part of the SEC’s unofficial annual preseason kickoff event, was reported by some websites to have been sent home by Archie Manning from the passing camp for “partying.” But camp officials were adamant those reports were inaccurate when speaking later to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Manziel, for his part, said he was disappointed to leave the camp early and insisted his departure had nothing to do with alcohol or the night prior.
“There’s a lot of rumors out there, a lot of talk,” Manziel said. “I’ve been very eager to get a chance to share my side of the story. I missed a meeting. It wasn’t anything due to the night prior. … It was just simply my phone died, I overslept, I woke up the next morning whenever I did, went and talked to them and it was kind of a mutual decision to get home and get some time to relax.”
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning told ESPN that he remembered a young Eli Manning missing a meeting at the camp and catching grief for it. Peyton, a 14-year NFL veteran, downplayed the event, saying, “We always have counselors who leave early,” and praised Manziel for his work with the campers while inviting him back next year.
Mike and Mike
ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen says that Johnny Manziel was advised to leave the Manning Passing Academy because he didn’t meet his obligations as a camp counselor.
Manziel said he spoke to his coach, Kevin Sumlin, recently, apologizing for the negative light he put on his program.
“I told him I felt like the deal really got blown out of proportion, and I’m sorry for that, for the way it was spun and the way it was taken out of context,” he said. “I never meant to make A&M look bad, or especially him. Me and Coach Sumlin have such a special relationship and I never would have wanted to upset him.”
The 20-year-old redshirt sophomore has been no stranger to headlines this offseason. He has been in the news for controversial comments on social media, agreeing to a plea deal on misdemeanor charges of failure to properly identify himself to College Station police and reportedly shoving a graduate assistant coach at a spring game in which he threw multiple interceptions.
Manziel told SportsCenter he feels he’s held to a higher standard than most players his age. At this time last year, he was an unknown in most circles outside of Texas A&M, a sprite young quarterback battling Jameill Showers to become the Aggies starter under center. Now, Showers is at UTEP while Manziel is a Heisman Trophy winner with a potential future in the NFL.
“I feel like I am on a little bit higher pedestal than most people in college football,” Manziel said. “But at the same time, I’m still 20 years old, I’m still a sophomore in college, I’m still going to do things that everyone in college does and continue to live my life. Hopefully people don’t hold me to a higher standard than that.”
Manziel, who is the centerpiece of the Aggies program this season under Sumlin, is a frontrunner to claim the Heisman Trophy again this season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound speedster from Kerrville, Texas, threw for 3,706 yards and rushed for 1,410 more, averaging 7.0 yards on the ground and 12.6 yards per completion last season.
He was the only quarterback in the country to finish in the top 25 in both passing and rushing while ending the season No. 1 in total offense with just shy of 400 yards per game and 47 touchdowns.
- Maisel: Manziel’s spotlight unprecedented (espn.go.com)
- Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel Kicked Out of Manning Passing Academy for Excessive Partying: Report (giants101.com)
- Manziel departs post at Manning Academy early (cbssports.com)
- Source: Manziel offers apology to A&M staff (espn.go.com)
- Johnny Manziel “recuperating from dehydration,” dad says (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Johnny Manziel Leaves Manning Camp Early, Officials Dispute Rumors (bleacherreport.com)
- Johnny Manziel leaves Manning Passing Academy early (sportingnews.com)
- Why the Media’s Obsessed With Johnny Manziel’s Offseason (newsy.com)
- Johnny Manziel leaves Manning Passing Academy (sbnation.com)
- Johnny Manziel Says He Didn’t Have a Hangover, He Just Overslept (Video) (blacksportsonline.com)