Yesterday the NCAA handed down one of the most pathetic sanctions it has ever ruled on… a half-game suspension against Johnny Manziel in the Texas A&M v. Rice game on Saturday for violating the spirit of a NCAA by-law. Now, in all honesty I don’t think he should have been given any suspension because as the NCAA admitted there was no evidence Johnny Football accepted money (a direct infraction) for signing literally thousands of items for brokers this off-season… My disappointment lies in the fact that what the Heisman trophy winner needs more than anything is a dose of reality – a dose of humility. From the time Manziel was handed college football’s highest honor until now the story of the sport has been his off-the-field antics, parties, and tweets: accepting a plea deal for an arrest stemming from a 2012 bar fight, being dismissed from the Manning football camp, being kicked out of a Texas frat party, venting his frustration with College Station via social media… and his apologies have been veiled in his go-to excuse, “I’m just a 20 year-old kid…”
Now, last time I checked this country considered 20 year-olds adults. I mean, my dad, a few of my high school friends, and several thousand other men and women have stood in the gap for our nation’s freedom before they ever reached their 20th birthday many at the cost of their very lives… What Manziel is saying with his “20 year-old kid” excuse is, “I’m an immature adult.” And what it comes down to for Johnny, in my humble opinion, is a sense of right… He believes he has the right to do whatever, to whomever, however he wants to do it – in short he feels entitled.
There was another story that came out today about some football players in New Jersey who had a very opposite approach. Four players from a small college in Wayne, NJ walked into a convenience store that happened to be closed but was unlocked with the lights on – thus appearing to be open. They called for a clerk, they waited, and when none came all four players left money for the items they needed. They didn’t short the store a single dime, but counted out the change. I’m not going to speculate what most people would do in that situation, but I know there are plenty of stories of shoplifters and outright thieves – and that includes college football players… making this particular story so appealing.
Pride and entitlement are dangerous things for all of us, and the temptation to succumb to them is great. Our social structures add to that danger because we are convinced of our rights; we are convinced we deserve things because of our position, our status, what we’ve been through, who our parents are, and the list goes on… But the danger with pride is that leaves us feeling totally void of any need for God or salvation. We feel as though we can do what we want to do and be who we want to be no matter who stands in our way.
Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor. – Proverbs 18:12 (ESV)
The four players in New Jersey have sense made national news for their moment of humility and decency. They are receiving honor for doing the honest and right thing. Unfortunately, the $50 gift cards the received pales in comparison to the attention Manziel has received for his movements in the opposite direction. He’s a good football player, my prayer is he becomes a humble human being before the destruction catches up with him. That’s something even Johnny Football can’t scramble away from.