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On Johnny Football: When Is It Okay To Be An Asshole?

Johnny Football poses with Kevin Durant. Just another day of the good life. (photo via Manziel’s instagram @JManziel2)

Johnny Manziel keeps the sports world on its toes. If you’re not familiar, Manziel is a student-athlete at Texas A&M who likes to party a lot, feels he’s too famous to attend classes like normal folks, and may or may not be good enough to do anything in the NFL.

Most recently, he was sent home from Archie and Peyton Manning’s prestigious Passing Academy for oversleeping?. After ward, according to Daddy Manziel, he was hospitalized for “dehydration” which appears to be a common celebrity condition.

For the past year, writers have gone back and forth between arguing that Manziel should be cut some slack because he’s young and having fun. There have been some who have argued the opposite, as well…but certainly not as many who would argue it if Manziel were a non-white player.

Racial politics aside, I have to ask: When is it okay for an athlete to be an asshole?

And by asshole I mean someone who is not only unconcerned with how the public feels about them but seems to go out of their way to throw the behavior in fans’ faces. I’m talking about guys who snub their noses at doing what is deemed appropriate for an athlete to do and goes about their business in the most ridiculous and public way possible. And when confronted about it they essentially give everyone the verbal version of the finger.

One of the arguments I’ve heard from folks is that Manziel hasn’t accomplished anything at the NFL level so he has no right to be as arrogant as he is. But on the other hand I hear folks saying that Manziel won’t make it at the NFL level. If I believe that, wouldn’t right now be the time to be an asshole? If he isn’t good enough to be a successful pro player this is the peak of his celebrity and he should probably take advantage of it now. 

But let’s put Manziel aside…does a player who doesn’t do things “the right away” always have to be lambasted? I was thinking about this as I perused Eagles WR Desean Jackson’s Instagram page. I  felt myself becoming enraged as I scrolled through party pic after party pic thinking about him trying to train during summer time with copious amounts of Peach Ciroc flowing through his tiny bloodstream and exhaustion from hitting every party spot from California to Washington DC. The idea that athletes need a lot of sleep doesn’t seem to apply to Jackson at all and quite frankly I found myself becoming both jealous and worried about how he will perform during the season.

I calmed myself down by reminding myself that Desean doesn’t belong to me and the season will tell the story. If Desean performs well then his blood alcohol level is really none of my concern – assuming it ever was.

But when it comes down to it, whether it’s Desean Jackson or Johnny Manziel, an athlete’s life is his or hers to run or ruin and I’d prefer not to get riled up either way.

I know that fans at home think to themselves “if I had all that money and opportunity I wouldn’t shit it away in some sweaty club with Drake…” but 1. I’m not sure that’s true, 2. I know that’s not true for me, and 3. So!

I guess I’m asking…does it bother you when players seem to be pushing the limits of social boundaries? Or are results on the field or court the only thing that matters?

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