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Johnny Manziel: The Legend of "Johnny Football"

Full Name Johnathan Paul Manziel
Birthday December 6, 1992 (age 30)
Hometown Tyler, Texas
College Texas A&M
NFL Draft 2014 – Round 1, Pick 22
Career Highlights Heisman Trophy (2012), All-American (2012, 2013)
Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Johnny Manziel is one of the most electrifying, charismatic and controversial players in recent college football history. His larger-than-life "Johnny Football" persona made him a household name by his freshman season at Texas A&M. After an otherworldly college career that included a Heisman Trophy, Manziel‘s much-hyped NFL career flamed out quickly amidst off-field issues.

Early Life and Star Turn at Texas A&M

Born in Tyler, Texas in 1992, Johnathan Paul Manziel grew up with sports in his blood. His great-grandfather Bobby Joe Manziel was an offensive lineman for the Georgia Bulldogs in the 1940s. Johnny was a gifted multi-sport athlete at Tivy High School, playing football, basketball and baseball. Known for his fierceness and competitiveness, Manziel once played a full baseball game with a severely swollen thumb after getting hit by a pitch.

Manziel choose to attend Texas A&M in College Station to play college football close to home. After a redshirt 2011 season, he beat out two upperclassmen in an intense QB battle to earn the starting job under coach Kevin Sumlin.

In 2012, "Johnny Football" was unleashed on the college football world as a redshirt freshman. He led A&M to a shock 29-24 win over defending champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa, tallying 345 total yards and 2 TDs. Manziel finished the regular season with SEC records of 4,600 total yards and 43 total TDs, becoming the first freshman to pass for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000. He won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide vote, becoming the first ever freshman recipient.

Manziel electrified fans with his sandlot style – evading sacks, throwing pinpoint deep balls and scrambling for touchdowns. The legend of "Johnny Football" was born, as #2 A&M finished 11-2 with Manziel garnering All-American honors.

As a 2013 sophomore, Manziel passed for 4,114 yards and 37 TDs while battling injuries. Texas A&M finished a still-strong 9-4 as Manziel repeated as a consensus All-American. In just two seasons, he shattered school and SEC records en route to 5,116 passing yards, 63 total TDs and over 1,400 rushing yards.

Bumpy NFL Career and Off-Field Struggles

After leaving A&M, Manziel was selected 22nd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. However, he struggled on the field and with maturity issues off it. Manziel was fined for being late to meetings and videos surfaced of his partying antics. After just two tumultuous seasons, including a stint in rehab, the Browns released Manziel. His next stops in the CFL and Fan Controlled Football league never panned out amidst more controversies.

Manziel‘s incredible college success failed to translate to the pros. His overconfidence, substance issues and unprofessional behavior cut short a promising NFL career. There were troubles off the field too – he split from his wife Bre Tiesi after one year of marriage in 2016. That same year, Manziel was charged with misdemeanor assault against an ex-girlfriend, though charges were later dismissed.

Manziel has been open about his struggles with alcohol and bipolar disorder. His free-spirited style exciting fans in college proved disastrous without the discipline needed in the NFL. Johnny Football got lost in the trappings of fame and squandered his professional chances.

Lasting Legacy

Despite the rapid NFL flameout, Johnny Manziel remains a one-of-a-kind college football icon. He helped launch Texas A&M into national prominence and set the tone for a wave of athletic dual-threat QBs. Manziel is the first freshman to ever tally 5,000 total yards and win the Heisman Trophy. Texas A&M football historian Rusty Burson called Manziel "the greatest player who ever wore an Aggie uniform" – high praise considering A&M‘s history.

Former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin perfectly summarized Manziel‘s enigmatic journey: "He‘s been through hell and back. He‘s an amazing story…It all came so quick, he was living life at the age of 18-19 years old that nobody could imagine." Love him or hate him, Johnny Football is undeniably one of the most captivating figures in recent college football memory.

What‘s Johnny Manziel Up To Now?

Now 30 years old, married and living in Arizona, Manziel continues to work on turning the page after a turbulent early career. He is building a clothing brand called "HEISMANzier" and works with Texas auto dealers on business ventures. Manziel plays quarterback and provides entertainment value for the Zappers in the growing Fan Controlled Football league.

While the peaks of his football glory days have passed, Manziel seems focused on rehabilitating his image and establishing post-career opportunities. Johnny Football gave fans a wild, unforgettable ride – one unmatched by any freshman phenom before or since. Though the journey was off course, the ride itself won‘t be forgotten.