The excellent education of Johnny Manziel

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
10:38
AM ET
Johnny ManzielScott Halleran/Getty ImagesJohnny Manziel's season to remember hasn't been as great as his offseason.
The Johnny Football backlash has begun.

Six months ago, only the most die-hard college football fans had even heard of Mr. Football. Then he set about destroying every team in his path and became a celebrity. Then people started to wonder is he was too much of a celebrity. And now, with the news that he is taking all of his classes online this spring, some are holding Jonathan College Football up as an example of all that is wrong with college football.

From no-name to possible cautionary tale in six months ... simply because he’s a famous college football quarterback ... who plays in the SEC ... who regularly shows up at high-priced events ... and parties with celebrities ... and is only taking classes via computer at his house. Have we really become this cynical?

Think about it: Who are some of the most intelligent and interesting people you know? Did they get intelligent and interesting by taking a class? Did they become wise and worldly by sitting in some classroom every morning in College Station, Texas? Or did they get that way because they lived life? Got out there and met people? Experienced the world?

J. Football, Esquire, has received an invaluable education these past few months. It’s one he couldn’t have obtained with his nose buried in some book at Texas A&M’s library or while scrolling through the most rigorous online class.

J-Foo has earned a Ph.D. in Livin'. And he finished first in his class.


Acting with Professor Megan Fox



On Dec. 17, Manziel appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Megan Fox. What’s better: dropping a fortune to study theater at some hoity-toity school like Juilliard or getting the opportunity to spend even five minutes in the green room with the actress who appeared in not one, but two, “Transformers” movies and “Jonah Hex”? Not even a debate here. Next.


Marketing with Professor James Harden



Three nights after his “Tonight Show” appearance, Manziel went to a Houston Rockets game and hung out in the locker room with James Harden, who became famous because he played well off the bench for a basketball team in Oklahoma City, Okla. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. No, Harden became famous because he grew a giant beard. That’s something they won’t teach you in Marketing 101. And that’s exactly why Marketing 101 is a waste of time.


Courtside NBA Economics




One day after his marketing class, Manziel was sitting courtside at a Heat-Mavericks game. Sit in an economics class all you want, look at charts, read about supply and demand and what the market will bear and all that stuff. Fine. Great. But how does it apply in the real world? “What? Really? Seven bucks for a soda?” There you go. Lesson learned. And seven bucks, plus $15 or $20 for parking and however many hundreds or thousands a courtside NBA seat costs is much cheaper than paying for an econ class. Probably.


Life Education 101 with Professor LeBron James



After Heat-Mavericks, Manziel had a meet-and-greet with LeBron James. Did LeBron tell him he needs to focus on his college education or he will never be a success in life? Probably not.


Psychology of Death and Dying



Two days after Heat-Mavericks, Manziel had some great seats at a Dallas Cowboys game. The Cowboys lost 34-31 in overtime and were eliminated from wild-card contention.


Sociology and American Celebrity with Professors Nick and Joe Jonas



What’s a better way to shake off another disappointing Cowboys defeat than by playing a round of golf the very next morning with two of the Jonas Brothers? Four hours of one-on-one learning with the opportunity to ask probing questions such as “How and why are you famous?” And: “Really?”


Gym Class: Winning the Cotton Bowl



On Jan. 5, Manziel had 516 total yards in a rout of Oklahoma. So you can get college credit for taking some gym class but not for setting a Cotton Bowl record on national television? Yeah, seems fair.


Risk Management



Manziel celebrated Texas A&M’s Cotton Bowl win on Jan. 6 with some gambling at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.



That night, Manziel also learned about the psychology of haters.


Marine Biology



Later that same day, Manziel headed off to South Beach to attend the BCS title game.



There is an ocean there. An ocean of knowledge.


Public Service and Charity



On Jan. 11, Manziel visited a children’s hospital. Granted, he should maybe only get a B or C for this class, because he gave a kid fake money.



But, hey, it’s all about learning.


Interpersonal Communication with Professor Chris Paul



Manziel got to talk to Chris Paul on Jan. 16. He said it was “good.”



No doubt he learned a lot.


Zoology 101 with Professor Johnny Manziel’s Dad



Manziel learned much about ducks in Arkansas with his father on Jan. 21, such as how they fly and how they stop flying.


Modern Media and Viral Video with Professor Dude Perfect




The dudes at Dude Perfect released a Johnny Manziel trick shot video on Jan. 24. Today it has more than 2.1 million views. Seems like the class project was a success.


Stage Performance with Professor Wale



Less than a week after acing his viral video class, Manziel got backstage with rapper Wale.



If you doubt there is a lot to experience backstage at a concert, you’ve obviously never been backstage at a concert.


Zoology 202



Manziel headed to New Orleans for the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 and ran into the boys from “Duck Dynasty” on A&E.



No doubt he furthered the duck studies he began in January with his father.


Alumni Networking with Von Miller



Networking with alumni isn’t a class, but it can be very important when looking for an entry-level job after graduation.



Way to look to the future, Johnny.


Party Planning with Professor Gronk



Want to learn how to participate in a good party? Want to learn how to take your shirt off when one arm is in a cast? There’s no one better to learn from than Rob Gronkowski. He’s America’s No. 1 party expert, and Manziel got to learn from him up close. No stuffy, bespectacled College Station professor could offer anything close.


Music 101 with Professors Justin Timberlake and Rick Ross



Manziel also managed to run into Justin Timberlake (and Jessica Biel) in New Orleans. This no doubt supplemented what he learned about music theory a few weeks earlier from Rick Ross.


Spectacle in American Society



In addition to learning in New Orleans, Manziel managed to get some good seats to the Super Bowl and experienced the conversion of American sport, music and advertising.



It’s one thing to read an essay about that sort of thing. A boring thing. It’s far better to experience it yourself.



By my count, Manziel has earned the equivalent of nearly 60 credits in the past two months alone simply by living his life. There is not a single student plugging away on a 12- or 15-credit course load who wouldn’t trade places with him.

We shouldn’t be criticizing Johnny Manziel. We should be applauding his dedication to earning a well-rounded and enriching education. He is a new kind of student-athlete.

Let’s just hope all of he has done to develop his brain wasn’t lost when he heard the Manti Te’o story.

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