Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

July 18, 2013

Some substance, please

Uncovering the real meat of media days

HOOVER, Ala. — Inside the Wynfrey Hotel, in front of a horde of more than 1,100 reporters and media professionals, Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel sat down to one lonely microphone on Wednesday and braved an onlsaught of uber-personal questions. Wearing a black suit in front of a black curtain, you could barely make out his shadow under the bright Southeastern Conference media day lights.

Yet despite his chameleon-like dress attire, whether intended or by accident, there was no hiding Manziel's presence. This was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, the SEC's single-season record holder in total yardage (5,116 yards, shattering Cam Newton's 4,327 mark in 2010). This was "Johnny Football."

He had just been sent home from the Manning Passing Academy the week prior, after all, and those in media row wanted their answers in the most anticipated college football interview since Nick Saban delivered yet another championship speech on Jan. 7 following Alabama's second consecutive national title.

Was Manziel hung over at the Manning Passing Academy? Had he overslept due to too many drinks the night before? Had his wild offseason finally caught up with him?

By my count, of the first 12 questions sent Manziel's way from reporters, 10 were centered on offseason issues such as the Manning debacle or his whirlwind of courtside appearances and celebrity encounters. Only two focused on, well, the real reason Manziel was there, which was to discuss the upcoming Aggies season and promote the positives that are surrounding Texas A&M in its second year of SEC play.

The 10-2 ratio of questions skewed in favor of offseason indulges is in no way surprising, as the articles that focus on his partying behavior, fair or not, gather the most hits and subsequent attention. ESPN.com's homepage linked two stories to the Manziel presser immediately thereafter, titled, "Manziel: 'Overslept,'" and "Still going to live life to the fullest."

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