We’ve begun the build-’em-up-tear-’em-down earlier than we usually do with Manziel. SEC football keeps getting bigger, and sports in general keep getting bigger, and media keeps getting bigger, and our appetite for gossip/information keeps getting bigger … and none of that can possibly result in anything other than fairness getting smaller.
We don’t care that you are a kid, kid. We’ll rationalize it away by saying, hey, you are old enough to fight in a war, and we kind of covered LeBron James this way in high school, as if a previous wrong forgives this one. Truth is, we didn’t cover James quite this way. He was never on ESPN being interrogated about a a possible hangover. We celebrated him similarly at a young age, but we didn’t chase and bite like African wild dogs.
We, as a group, the fans and the media, aren’t as great at examining our own misbehavior as we are at castigating athlete misbehavior. For example, one of the great sins in the cathedral we’ve made of sports is entitlement. We don’t like the athletes who behave entitled. But we, fans and media, are more entitled than we’ve ever been. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have given us glimpses at athletes we didn’t have before, but we aren’t satisfied that they’ve chosen to show us more. No, that just makes us crave what the athletes don’t want us to see.
Manziel is great in front of the cameras when interviewed. And you know how great he is in front of Saturday’s cameras. Once upon a time, that would have been enough, and an amazing mythology would have grown from there. But we are closer than we’ve ever been now, for better and for worse, so it is the other cameras that are problematic, the ones that follow The Social-Media Athlete as he walks through this new world, waiting for him to trip.
And it is probably worth noting that he’s about the same age as fame-soaked Justin Bieber, recently caught on camera spitting from a balcony on his fans.
Our choices don’t seem good ones up there.
Either we chew him up.
Or he grows into something that learns to fear and hate us.