Creating Johnny Football

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The quarterback much revered throughout the college football landscape hadn’t spoken a word to media until this Monday. No doubt the intrigue has grown with the silence. Fans had three things to judge Johnny Manziel: what he’s done on the field, which for any quarterback, much less a true freshman, is mighty impressive. Second, his high school career in Texas which he combined for 75 TDs his senior year. And lastly, his nickname – Johnny Football, which is arguably the most apt nickname in all of sports.

Johnny Football arrived on the national radar leading Texas A&M to victory over then #1 ranked Alabama. He lead the way with 253 yards and 2 TDs. The archetypes surrounding Manziel coalesced that night in Tuscaloosa. The Texas born and bred quarterback; the troubled youth prodigy who makes good; the local hero who stays home. A simple, definitive nickname. All that adds up to a potential Heisman.

Johnny Manziel became known as Johnny Football to a world outside SEC football on the biggest stage, in his biggest game. The creation of Johnny Football The Legend was, like anything else, a combination of talent, timing, and seizing the moment. The archetypes are created through generations, then someone comes along and embodies it. Before television, folk stories of athletic feats were told from person to person, hyperbole added through each telling.

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