At some point in 1995 the Boston Red Sox acquired the services of outfielder Jose Canseco and immediately my relationship with my favorite team changed, and not for the better.
Despite the fact this was years before Canseco revealed his intimate relationship with performance enhancing drugs, I simply did not like the guy. In fact, at the time, I would have to say he was my absolute least favorite player in the game. He was arrogant, he was brash, he was cocky, he stood at the plate too long admiring his steroid-fueled bombs and he simply irritated me to distraction. So, the news he was the newest Red Sox did not make me happy.
I give you this anecdote because I am going through a similar experience right now. There’s a fellow who I just cannot stand, playing quarterback for the college football team I have rooted for since I was a young kid acting like I was Curtis Dickey in the front yard of my parents’ house in Garland, Texas, and in the process he is ruining my Saturday afternoons. If you’ve been reading the column for a while, or perhaps, you know me, then you know who I’m talking about, none other than the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and media lightning rod, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
I have been aware of Manziel longer than most people. In my job as a sports writer in central Texas I first encountered him when he was playing baseball as a sophomore for Kerrville Tivy High School. While I have no clear picture of him as a baseball player I did see him two more times during his high school career, both times in the football playoffs where his Tivy team eliminated a team I was covering at the time. By this point I was already hearing things about him in the press box that had begun to sway my opinion toward the negative. So, when he ended up signing with A&M, I was not really that enthused.
Still, I did not expect him to completely kill any joy I got from Aggie football, but that’s exactly what has happened. All of his antics, from his touchdown celebrations, to his Mercedes, to the way the thinks he can do as he pleases and the world must adjust to his whims are simply more than I, as a fan, can forgive. He is the personification of everything that can be wrong with a modern-day athlete and I, personally, don’t want anything to do with him and I especially have no interest in cheering him on.
To be fair, my enjoyment of Aggie football was already on the decline even before Manziel arrived. Too many years of Dennis Franchione and the decision to flee to the SEC in order to escape the shadow of the University of Texas had embittered me. But it still had not been enough to get me to stop watching Aggie football completely. That has all changed with the boom in Manziel mania. The Franchione years may well have been the coffin and the move to the SEC was the lid to that coffin, but Manziel and his act have been the nails that have sealed the lid, taking away any sort of joy I might get from watching my once-beloved Aggies play in the process.
I was fortunate when Canseco disgraced the Red Sox uniform because he only played there for two seasons. It seems like the same might hold true for Manziel and A&M as most people seem to think he’ll get out of College Station as soon as the current season ends so he can try his luck in the NFL. I can only hope that his exodus will give me back what I am now lacking – a team to root for on Saturdays. If it doesn’t I suppose I can always start cheering for old Notre Dame. My wife (an Irish alum) has been making that offer to me for years and I’ve always said no, but maybe now is time to reconsider. At least it would give me something to do Saturday afternoons and maybe distract me a little from the fact the college football player I like the least is leading the college football team I should love the most.