Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Johnny Football


Kevin Shropshire's new book by MVP Books entitled Johnny Football tells the reader about the tumultuous two year period in College Station, Texas when a confident young man who captured the attention of a nation, the hearts of an adoring fan base whilst polarising opinion amongst various media outlets.

Not since the days of Tim Tebow at Florida has a young college sportsman been as loved and as hated  when playing at the College level. Johnny Manziel seemingly appeared from nowhere winning the starting QB position as a freshman leading the Texas A&M Aggies to a 11-1 season including a win on the road versus the reigning National champions Alabama and winning the illustrious Heisman trophy, the first freshman to do so.

Shropshire's book is a wonderful home not just to those life-changing times in Texas but he takes the  time to give an in-depth history about college football in Texas, the reasons behind the Aggies move from the Big 12 to the more intense SEC conference where the level of opponent is more attributable to a greater post-season Bowl appearance.

With great humour Shropshire covers the career of Kevin Sumlin who has dealt with the Manziel thunderstorm with great dignity; Shropshire's chapter on the NCAA investigation which jeopardised Manziel's 2nd season is portrayed with precision and care to not make a judgment but produce the facts as they are.

Shropshire's history in the regional press of Texas provides some hilarious nuggets of truth in the task of local journalism, as well as jibes at the feverish fandom of college sports.  This reader particularly liked the story of when the Alabama Crimson Tide came to College Station for the rematch of Manziel vs AJ McCarron which the Tide QB won, with Aggies staff instructing fans, 'Don't look at the Tide fans, and don't feed them either', numerous occasions his reader laughed out loud at this writer's clever use of humour to make the point clear.

And yet the Manziel story has not finished yet, tomorrow night in New York City for the 2015 NFL Draft when Johnny Football may become Johnny Cleveland, Johnny Jaguar or Johnny Viking.  What is clear from all the stories Shropshire writes is that many coaches, players and critics agree that Johnny Football for all the off-the-field drama is a once in a lifetime footballer capable of galvanising a franchise and team with his unique play-making ability.

Johnny Football: Johnny Manziel's Wild Tide from Obscurity to Legend at Texas A&M is out from MVP Books in England on 26th June 2014, but is available now via American outlets for your reading devices.

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