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Archie Griffin: Johnny Manziel has good shot at second Heisman

It's been 38 years since the only man to win two Heisman Trophies did so, and Archie Griffin is surprised the feat hasn't already been accomplished a second time.

The former Ohio State great, now 59, believes Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel could finally join him. But Griffin is just as sure that Manziel's off-field persona could be a negative factor in the minds of voters.

"I think he's got a good shot at it. He's done some things that probably hurt him a little bit, because a lot of voters look at the big picture when it comes to the Heisman Trophy," Griffin told College Football 24/7 on Friday. "And they don't seem to like a lot of controversy surrounding the Heisman Trophy, so that could hurt him a little bit. But he's playing great football right now. All he should do now is just take control of what he can control, and that's how he plays the game, and the way he conducts himself. That's going to be important for him."

As a former winner, Griffin has a Heisman vote himself. Out of respect for an annual request to keep balloting secret, Griffin said he won't reveal his vote. "It's very private to me," he said.

But Griffin, at the same time, acknowledged that the character element of the Heisman criteria is no small matter.

"That's part of it to me. I think it's important that the person represents their family, themselves, and the university they attend extremely well. I think that's really, really important," said Griffin, who played professionally with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals. "I think it's important to other voters, too. But at the same time, there is a lot more to consider. Certainly, you've got to consider if that person's play is deserving. That's of utmost importance to me."

To that end, Manziel is currently ranked No. 8 in the NCAA in total offense at 371 yards per game, and has led the Aggies to a 3-1 start this season.

Johnny Football's race toward two-time Heisman history isn't without its on-field hurdles, either. Although it's far too early to establish the race definitively, some of the other top candidates four weeks into the season include Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. All are leading unbeaten teams, while Manziel has one loss -- albeit a game in which his play was spectacular -- against Alabama.

» Heisman Watch: Manziel on top heading into Week 5

Griffin said the advent of the 24-hour news cycle has made the media microscope on Heisman candidates far more treacherous that what he dealt with in the mid-1970s.

"It was certainly a whole lot different. You didn't have 24-hour sports on radio and television, or social media surrounding sports," he said. "You had people who loved sports and people who talked sports quite a bit, but it wasn't hitting you 24 hours a day."

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 as a junior, and again in 1975. Over those two seasons, he rushed for a combined 3,145 yards with 16 touchdowns, and he broke what was then the NCAA career rushing record as a senior with a total of 5,589 yards. Griffin started in four consecutive Rose Bowls for the Buckeyes, then played seven seasons with the Bengals and one with the USFL's Jacksonville Bulls.

He was the toast of college football at the time. Not unlike Manziel today.

"It's always like that. Every year, somebody pops up that sets the world on fire like Johnny did a year ago," said Griffin, who is now president of the Ohio State Alumni Association. "He plays at a very, very high level and it's showing for Texas A&M."

But will it show at the ballot box come December?

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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