The week that was in the always unpredictable life of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel:
Are we finally beginning to see signs that Manziel can, in fact, feel pain? For two consecutive weeks, Johnny Football has had to come out of a game with an injury, only to re-enter and finish it out. The first time, Manziel re-buckled his helmet and pulled out a come-from-behind win at Ole Miss, despite collapsing with knee pain on a second-half scramble. Then last week, it was a shoulder injury that left Manziel wincing in pain, but determined once again to finish the game:
This time, the magic wasn't there, as Auburn pulled off a 45-41 upset. One of the true wonders of Manziel's college career to date has been this: How did a 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback lead the roughest, toughest defensive conference in the college game in rushing last year without suffering so much as a scratch? A year ago, he didn't slide, he didn't run out of bounds, he did virtually nothing to protect his body at the end of his runs. And he ended up with 1,410 yards. Although the SEC record book hasn't yet been updated for 2012 results, that will rank as the 19th-best total in league history, and second best by a quarterback. This year, Manziel has taken to sliding and running out of bounds more, at the behest of the Aggies' coaching staff. And, probably, his mom.
Auburn defensive lineman Ben Bradley couldn't help but take a poke at Johnny Football after the Tigers' upset road win. In a since-deleted tweet, the junior wrote: "Why Manziel leave so fast after the game I wanted his autograph".
Speaking of Manziel's injury, thank little walk-on-turned-scholarship receiver Travis Labhart of Texas A&M for one of the more interesting footnotes to the legend that Manziel has forged in just a year and a half. Labhart said Manziel, whose slightly injured throwing arm was in a sling for Monday's practice , threw passes left-handed in practice during drill work, according to the Houston Chronicle. Was there any velocity on those passes whatsoever? Were they even spirals? Sure. Why not. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Shoulder injury or not, it would appear there is nothing wrong with Manziel's autographing hand. A restaurant waitress claimed to have received a $15 tip from Manziel on a dinner bill of $81.14. Legit? Well, she tweeted a pic of the receipt with the signature, but later deleted the tweet. If any one doubts her, it's not as if there aren't plenty of signature samples out there to compare. Sorry, collectors. She says she did not hang on to the bill.
Just so everyone is clear. I was more than happy with the tip Johnny Gave me and no I did not keep the slip therefore i cannot sell it.â Shelby Strange (@shelbsss11) October 25, 2013
Those who think Manziel is out of the Heisman Trophy race because he has lost twice, putting the Aggies out of national title contention, might be reminded that two losses didn't stop Manziel from winning it last year. Then again, there may be forces at work beyond stats, wins, and losses that could keep it from happening. This from USA Today Sports Analyst Danny Sheridan, excerpted from an interview on the Paul Finebaum radio show: "Most deserving, has really played well, too political. I've said this, like beating a dead horse, you know it. The voting is very political, and Manziel is not going to win it." Far be it from the oft-combative Finebaum to disagree with a guest. Later in the week, he tabbed Manziel as his Heisman pick.
In last week's edition of the Chronicles, we updated suggestions to college football blog outkickthecoverage.com for Manziel's Halloween costume, which drew plenty of attention a year ago. Manziel, according to site owner Clay Travis, has agreed to wear a costume chosen by the people. Now, the website has narrowed the possibilities down to 12. Our favorite: Johnny Hancock.
Think it's easy to be Johnny Manziel? It's not. After all, it can't be easy to say no to a publicly issued invitation to a pool party, tonight, thrown by Vanderbilt cheerleaders. That is, assuming Johnny does, indeed, decline the offer. Vanessa Bray, whose Twitter bio indicates she is a senior Vandy cheerleader, tweeted at Manziel "come pool party with Vanderbilt Cheerleading tonight!!" She later deleted the tweet. No word on if the invitation still stands.
Johnny wouldn't splash around with the other team's cheerleaders the night before they'll be cheering against him, would he? Could he? Oh, the things that keep Kevin Sumlin up at night.
The Numbers Game
Manziel is now exactly 20 games into his college career, and his total yardage over that span is enough to spin the mind: 7,891. Average per game: 394.5. Average per thrill: We guess around 20.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.