In mom terms, Johnny Manziel has been involved in just enough mischief to get grounded, but not enough to be threatened with military school. What with all the drunkenness and shady autograph shenanigans and whatnot.
But when Manziel took the field against Rice on Saturday after his one half double-secret probation and proceeded to make with the trash talk and mocking gestures, that was a little much for one Texas mother to take.
Beth Bates is the mom of a sixth-grader who idolizes Manziel — so much so that the kid abandoned his mom’s school, the University of Texas, to become an A&M fan. But Beth Bates is not amused with Manziel’s antics, which she believes could be negatively influencing her son (both are pictured above).
But here’s the thing. My 6th grade son teaches me a lot about life. And even after today’s game he sees redemption for you. As I sat, as a very frustrated fan and mom, watching you trash talk and wondering if you’ve learned a single lesson lately…as I sat (ok, I don’t sit. I walk around as much as coaches and talk at players like you can hear me) and told you to get the chip off your shoulder and just play…I listened to my son see the good. He still sees (as America does) what a tremendous athlete you are. He still sees that you’re not just good at football, you have a gift. He still sees that Tivy High School Senior that came to his elementary school and worked with some of the kids during PE. And he talked about it today, with a little disappointment in his voice because of the choices you’ve made recently.
But besides the games, unfortunately, we’ve also watched the mistakes in the public eye. How can we miss them? Until recently, you paraded them around on social media as if you felt you were untouchable. And that’s led us, and many other parents I’m sure, to have hard conversations with our son. Conversations that talk about character being more important than fame. Conversations about your true worth not being found in your athletic ability, but in your daily actions that define you as a person. Conversations about the responsibility that comes with success and fame. Conversations about how you are a great athlete, but not a great role model.
Stop being a lesson in what not to do. And start living your God-given potential. Notice nothing that I’ve said here has anything to do with football? Because IT DOESN’T MATTER! If you don’t live a life of character and fulfill your God-given potential, NONE OF IT matters.
It’s not too late to right the ship. It’s not too late to sit down with your family, your coaches, your teammates be accountable and be the leader you were created to be. … You have a platform to make a difference, to influence lives, to do good. And I may be in the minority and maybe a little naive, but I believe you want to do it right. But you have to start doing it differently and surround yourself with people who will keep you grounded.
Anyone who has kids knows that you suddenly start judging everything on how you think it affects them. You try to see everything from their perspective — mostly you fail at that, but it’s the trying that counts. So Johnny Manziel is not being a very good role model, and that former you who probably galloped through college doing some of the same things he’s doing couldn’t care less. But the current you is worried, because as Beth writes, “Little eyes are watching.”
So yeah, her letter comes off as a little preachy, and somewhat naive. But it’s not mean-spirited or condemning, and that’s what’s good about it. It’s just a reminder that, like it or not, Manziel is a role model. So maybe he should cool it a bit.
Hopefully Manziel reads it. And if he doesn’t like it, no big deal — he can always print it out and use it as a coaster.
Photos via Twitter, Facebook, Getty Images.