Johnny Manziel is going full Pete Rose for Houston's Super Bowl moment.
The first time I met Pete Rose, I stumbled onto him on the Las Vegas Strip. Or at least, stumbled upon his booth. Baseball’s All-Time Hits King set up camp right on Las Vegas Boulevard where he sold autographs, photos and anything else anyone would buy with his infamous name on it.
Rose’s booth stood squeezed in-between a rock climbing wall and the M&M Store. He’d hired a guy named Chuckles to sort of be his town crier — and drum up business by alerting passing tourists that a banished baseball legend was at their beck and call. I remember Rose yelling at Chuckles for calling out that there was no line — no wait.
“Chuckles,” Rose moaned. “What do you think when you see a restaurant with no line? You think the food must be horrible.”
Seeing Charlie Hustle in this state was a sad, surreal sight. Rose was older then — and you could see he’d obviously been beaten down a little by life, his IRS struggles, his fights against baseball, his futile Hall of Fame visions. He’d been through a lot. Now, Johnny Manziel seems to have somehow achieved near full Pete Rose at age 24.
It’s hard to believe, but in many ways Manziel is just as banished from the sport he loves as Pete Rose ever was. And Manziel is certainly pulling a Pete Rose move during Houston’s Super Bowl. The former Texas A&M University Heisman Trophy winner committed to signing Selfies for money at two Houston-area malls during Super Bowl week.
Welcome to the freak show…
No one in the NFL wants anything to do with Johnny Manziel anymore, but Johnny Football cannot stay away. So he’ll try and grab a tiny bit of the spotlight Super Bowl week — and walk away with a modest payday or two. This does not get Johnny Manziel any closer to playing football again (certainly not in Roger Goodell‘s league), but that just makes it like most decisions he’s made since flaming out as the Cleveland Browns’ next great quarterback hope.
For fans of the party man, Manziel is something of a bargain — by Super Bowl week standards.
He’ll sign “any item” for $99, with Selfies running $50 (plus an extra $29 for a written inscription of “four words or less.” Manziel is making the appearances at Stadium Signatures stores at Katy Mills Mall (Thursday, Feb. 2) and The Woodlands Mall (Thursday, Feb. 3). Yes, Johnny Manziel does not even make it Inside the Loop for Houston’s Super Bowl.
This all seems about right. Which may be the saddest thing of all. Manziel’s fall from the most exciting player in college football, the quarterback who scared Alabama to death long before Deshaun Watson ever came along, is steep. He has managed to get himself essentially banished from football before the age that even car rental companies start to take you seriously.
Johnny Manziel’s turned himself into the Millennials’ Pete Rose. He’s not stuck in a booth on the Las Vegas Strip. No, Manziel is somewhere even worse — out at a suburban mall Super Bowl week, getting paid to pose for the types of pictures he used to try and avoid have coming out on TMZ.