Like millions of other Americans of varying degrees of football-interest-intensity, we viewed the Heisman Trophy television mini-marathon Saturday night. It was too long, but well done and in this mind raised more questions than anything else.
Like too many of the productions of this sort, there were too many boring commercials, but the bills have to be paid and when in New York it’s expensive. It was held in the Best Buy Theater in Times Square (adding to the commercial dressing).
There were three finalists for this granddaddy of all football awards, named after a pioneering early 1900s football coach at Georgia Tech, John Heisman. The three were excellent players who were outstanding representatives of their schools: Johnny “Football” Manziel, Texas A & M quarterback; Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o; and Kansas State’s quarterback Collin Klein.
The voting by a panel of media members and former winners wasn’t that close. Manziel came first, Te’o was second, and Klein was third. Manziel’s selection was the big deal. He’s the first freshman to win the trophy. He is a red-shirted freshman, which means he’s really a sophomore in school but was held back to mature as a football player when he was a true freshman. He didn’t play in a game as a freshman so he’s got three more seasons to play.
We felt sorry for No. 2 (Te’o) and No. 3 (Klein) in the voting. In other times, they may have been first. If we were a pro coach, we’d rate them great prospects. The fact that Manziel engineered a victory over Alabama, along with a 10-2 overall season, and in the SEC, for Texas A & M, boosted his stock as the “real thing.” (Pardon us for not bowing when we wrote Alabama.)
The questions rolling around in this not quite full football mind include: In the next three seasons, can Manziel be as good as he was this year? Will he be a marked target in every game (something to brag about if you sack a Heisman Trophy guy)? Will he be injured? Will the trophy up his ego to the point of downward he goes? In other words, can he handle the celebrity status (after all he just turned 20 years of age a few days ago)?
He’s no Eagle Scout. Last June he was arrested in College Station after he got in a fight and had a fake ID. To some people, that means he’s a normal football player!
A rather large question, will he have the players such as this year to assist him, like a strong offensive line and the pass receivers? Another problem is the fans, who are going to expect Johnny Heisman to have three more years of greatness. That puts tremendous pressure on the young man.
Fame can be fleeting. But he’s in a famed fraternity that hasn’t faded. Trophy winners who attended the gala were on the stage when Manziel was announced as the winner.
Manziel is due congratulations and best wishes. We almost feel sorry for him. The Heisman reputation places him in an elite circle. With three more years to play, the weight of that trophy is going to be difficult to bear.