SEC

July 17, 2013

Johnny Manziel explains absence from Manning passing camp

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M said a dead cellphone, not a hangover, was the reason he overslept and missed the final day of the Manning Passing Academy. And he also had some other things to say to scores of reporters at SEC Media Days.

By 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had come clean.

The case of the mysterious behavior at the Manning Passing Academy was explained on day two of the Southeastern Conference Media Days. A dead cellphone, not dead brain cells, was his explanation for leaving the camp a day early last week.

So, no, he was not hungover — Manziel insisted he just overslept — and he left on good terms with an invitation to return next year. But Manziel said he also felt regret for not completing the task.

“I was upset at myself,” said Manziel, who won last year’s Heisman Trophy as a freshman. “For me not to fulfill my obligations, there’s no excuse for it. It my fault.”

Manziel shared this from an ESPN studio seat with scores of reporters listening in the background. A few minutes later, he entered a group interview room and hundreds jockeyed for position and heard these bites:

• “The spotlight is 10 times brighter than I thought it was.”

• “My offseason will not affect my season.”

• “At the end of the day, I’m not going for the Miss America pageant, I’m playing football.”

• “I just don’t have anything to say on Twitter.”

About that last thought … Manziel, who had collected some 385,000 Twitter followers hasn’t hit the “send” button since June 15. He’d been an active participant, too active some suggest. At one point, he posted that he “can’t wait to leave to leave college station … whenever it may be.”

Coach Kevin Sumlin had seen enough. He said Tuesday that he and his quarterback had a meeting soon after.

“We had some discussion when that last tweet was out,” Sumlin said. “He hasn’t done that recently.”

As for Manziel’s Heisman encore season, Sumlin wants to see him continue to think more like a quarterback. As the Aggies rolled to 11 victories last season, including an astonishing triumph at Alabama, Manziel worked largely on instinct behind a superb offensive line.

“We still want to get a much better feel for the overall package, and think more like a coach on the field,” Sumlin said.

Less athlete acting like a quarterback and more quarterbacking with athletic skills, Sumlin said.

Soon, the Manziel show was over. The talk show appearances, throwing out first pitches — “I bit off more than could chew in July” — are done.

“It’s time to play football,” Manziel said. “I’ll be ready.”

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