The trouble with Johnny

Admittedly, I probably don’t do as much reading as I should. However, I came across this piece by ESPN The Magazine writer Wright Thompson just a few weeks ago. The story chronicles everyone’s favorite SEC quarterback, Johnny Manziel, over the hectic summer that has been so publicized.

I like this piece for several reasons. First, it tells the whole story of the Manziel saga. The version of the story that we get in mainstream media is the “He ate Skittles, drank beer and won the Heisman,” version. Thompson goes beyond that, telling not only the what of the events that most of us are familiar with, but the why and the how as well. As Thompson puts it, “People on the outside see only the final collapse: the drunken photo, the fight outside a bar, the angry tweet. They never see the slow decay, because that happens in private.” This also brings me to my second point: the journalism and storytelling behind this is excellent. Thompson eloquently tells the story in a way that, at least for me, keeps you engaged (on a side note, his section that begins “DON’T BE SURPRISED.” is probably the best written).

Like Manziel or not, he’s a polarizing figure who had a magical season and it worth talking about. Thompson portrays the story in an unbiased way. He doesn’t pick and choose quotes that just portray Manziel as the spoiled brat or as the defenseless victim, he paints the whole picture and allows the readers to judge for themselves.


5 thoughts on “The trouble with Johnny

  1. jfedich

    You can truly see how much power social media holds over us simply by looking at how the public’s perception of Johnny Manziel has changed since the end of last season. I love how the tone-setter for this article is a twitter post from Manziel. I also love the caption under the instagram photo of Johnny Manziel. I was not familiar with Wright Thompson before reading this, but I enjoyed every bit of this article. Thompson kept me engaged the whole way through. He gives his audience an insider perspective on what fame can do to someone that seems so likeable and innocent like Manziel. Best of all, Thompson avoids judging Manziel or painting him in a negative light, but rather he focuses on telling a story of his experience with Manziel and his family.

  2. connorriley

    I think the piece does an excellent job of just showing what it is like to be Manziel. When he is approached by his former teacher, I really feel for him because hear is someone who knew him before the fame, and you can tell Johnny just wants to be treated like one of her former students. But when the teacher asks for an autograph you can see how heart broken he is that she is just using his fame to profit in some way.

  3. raleighh

    The narrative form of this piece is unbelievable and really gives the public as an entity insight into Manziel’s personality, his life, and what he believes are his struggles on a day to day basis. Thompson does a tremendous job in keeping an unbiased perspective throughout this article, although he must have spent several days with the Manziel family, trying to let the world know how famous this Heisman quarterback truly is, but also how much a of a kid he is. If any one of us were in his place, would we act any differently? There is no way of knowing, but with Thompson’s article, which is much more than just a feature article, one must consider what it would be like to spend a day in Manziel’s shoes.

  4. tarulloanna

    Excellent choice. I am such a ridiculously huge fan of Wright Thompson and love this piece. Another piece, my personal favorite of his, that you might be interested in checking out is his article that later got turned into a 30 for 30, “Ghosts of Mississippi.” The link is below. It’s about the 1962 undefeated Ole Miss football team, that was overshadowed by the saga of James Meredith. I’d love to crawl inside the mind of Wright, his story lines are so innovative and intriguing and I really admire his ability to distance himself from preconceived notions of athletes, such as Manziel, or other story lines and approach from a completely unaffected perspective.

  5. jleber10

    I really enjoyed this piece as well. Wright Thompson is an excellent story teller (he also made a great 30 For 30 film entitled The Ghosts of Ole Miss. Everyone should check it out.)

    I agree that Manziel is profiled in a way in which you don’t know whether to love him, hate him, or feel bad for him. Honestly, I think his struggles are more of a product of how he was raised. The fame just accentuated his flaws. Paul Manziel seems to be confused on why Johnny has acted the way he has, but in a lot of ways, seems just as immature as his golf-club bending, Heisman winning son. (I think the “nut-tapping” incident at the concert perfectly shows what I mean.) Now with the possible autograph scandal looming over Manziel, this article seems especially relevant, as it shows the immaturity of a kid who is still learning to deal with his celebrity.


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