After just one full season at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel has become arguably the most scrutinized individual in the history of college sports. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton knows how Manziel feels.
Newton’s unwanted notoriety stemmed more from allegations of recruiting violations and illegal benefits than the high-profile partying and social media outbursts Manziel has become known for since winning the Heisman Trophy, but both were subjected to the national limelight long before they cashed their first NFL paychecks.
Newton played just one season at Auburn before leaving to cash in on that paycheck, but Manziel is required to spend at least one more year in College Station. Newton told reporters Tuesday that he understands what Manziel is going through and has spoken with the 20-year-old quarterback during this offseason about managing his newfound fame.
“For any college athlete you are vulnerable to so many things,” Newton said, according to The Associated Press. “You think everybody loves you for who you are.
“When I was there at college so many people wanted from me and I wanted to give so much. Like I would sign this and give my time and this, this and that. And nobody was looking at it through my [eyes]. If you say no to this particular person you are going to be a [jerk]. You are going to be the person that people look at as, ‘What’s up? We came out here and supported you and cheered for you and you can’t sign an autograph?’ Never mind that you signed 300 other autographs before. But that’s the nature of the beast.”
It is autograph signing that has gotten Johnny Football embroiled in his latest scandal, as several reports allege that Manziel has received compensation for his signature multiple times — a clear violation of NCAA rules.
Newton was lucky enough to depart for the NFL at the height of the NCAA investigation against him, avoiding any potential suspension. If reports like these prove to be accurate, Manziel may not be so fortunate.