"Manziel kicked out of UT frat party"
"Manziel reportedly tossed from frat party at UT"
"Manziel reportedly tossed at Longhorns frat party"
"Video purports to show Manziel at Texas frat"
"Heisman winner Johnny Manziel kicked out of Texas frat party"
The above headlines are not taken from blogs, Twitter, or social media. They aren't from gossip or rumor websites. They aren't message board fodder. They are the top Sunday night college football headlines from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports (the source of the above photo), CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Sporting News.
That's right – Heisman winner Johnny Manziel being asked to leave a frat party at the University of Texas is currently the top headline in all of college football a month before the new season begins.
Welcome to the machine.
It's a fascinating snapshot of where we are in sports at the moment. You might expect stories about Johnny Manziel's partying and offseason world tour to populate sports blogs and social media. And they have for months. In fact, two blogs broke major Manziel-related stories that drew headlines in the last month. Rumors & Rants first reported Manziel was kicked out of the Manning passing camp and Burnt Orange Nation had the video of Manziel being asked to leave a Texas frat party first.
But ESPN? Sports Illustrated? NBC? CBS? Not only are these mainstream outlets covering this story, but they're covering it as a top news story in the sport. A star college quarterback partying at a rival school and being asked to leave is a funny anecdote that may have drawn some message board traffic several years ago. Maybe even a few years ago. But now it's blown up and taken on a life of its own.
It's simply amazing. Manziel didn't get involved in any kind of altercation. Nor was he there discussing transfer plans with Mack Brown. Nor was he at Texas in a secret plot to kidnap Bevo. Nothing. Happened. And yet, Johnny Manziel walking away from a University of Texas fraternity and then finding his favorite Tim Tebow jersey is… news? Apparently no co-ed in the history of colleges and universities has ever partied at a different school than the one which he or she attends.
The real issue at hand is since the Manning camp controversy, Johnny Manziel living it up has officially become a "thing" which means the TMZization of sports has won.
This is the cold, honest truth. In 2013 the games themselves play second fiddle to celebrity. You don't hear much about Texas A&M's chances at a national championship or in the mighty SEC. Instead, the major talking point everywhere is the Aggies quarterback wearing a Tim Tebow jersey with a beer in hand. It doesn't really matter whether or not Manziel succeeds or fails on the field this fall, much like Tebow he'll be a story nonetheless.
When's the last time you saw the NL Central standings on SportsCenter ahead of Alex Rodriguez and steroids? Observe Deadspin's year long study of SportsCenter and you'll see a dedication to one thing above all – celebrity. It's not just a troubling obsession with Tim Tebow anymore. It's finding LeBron James stories at all costs. It's Kobe's tweets. It's Mark Sanchez for some insane reason. It's covering the Yankees more than NASCAR or the Heat more than the entire sports of soccer, golf, and tennis combined. Now it's Johnny Manziel's social life.
Sure, Manziel doesn't have TMZ's paparazzi following his every step. He doesn't walk out of meetings with cameras and reporters in his face. But is it really all that different for the A&M quarterback? His whereabouts are constantly tracked by bloggers or on social media. Manziel can't show up at a party without someone posting a picture on Twitter or Instagram. Those pics are sent to blogs and/or picked up by mainstream outlets and simply serve to feed the beast. Who would have thought you'd see @sdavy23 receive a photo credit on ESPN.com? These are the days in which we live.
Sports outlets are covering Johnny Manziel's offseason like Access Hollywood and The Insider cover Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. They just can't get enough whether there's actually a story or not. Johnny Manziel is no longer a college football quarterback. He's a celebrity uncomfortably forced into an existence that cannot contain him any longer. Manziel's celebrity status has been fully immersed into the machine and the machine must satisfy its addiction at all costs.
And in case you're wondering… TMZ Sports had not covered the Manziel frat story by Sunday night. I suppose the others already did their job for them.