Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel probably don't hate each other. In fact, almost all outward indicators they've given make it seem as if they're friends. But that doesn't matter, as narrative is in the process of taking over.
To set the stage: these two combine to be the two most bandied-about college quarterbacks imaginable, one the first freshman Heisman trophy winner ever, the other coming off back-to-back national championship victories (and now dating a national celebrity). When there's a camp with the best college football quarterbacks in the country, these are the roommates everybody watches. They are also bros; they have vacationed together.
But this succumbs to storyline: Manziel is the brash young gun who has made the bitter mistake of acting like a 20-year-old, McCarron is the focused championship machine sportswriters fawn over. And it just so happens the one time they played, Manziel's team won, McCarron's only loss of the year.
So when McCarron was asked about Manziel's off-the-field activity, as was every single other person who had the temerity to show up at SEC Media Days, he didn't either show up his bro or tie himself to his bro's controversies. He said the least committal thing ever:
I can't answer on Johnny Manziel's part. My name is AJ. Everything that has to do with him, he's his own man. I'm not going to speak on another man's business. That's how I was raised. If it don't have nothing to do with you, don't speak on it.
I know how I handle myself out in public, how I carry myself in front of people. That's what I'm worried about, trying to be the best player and the best person off the field that I can be for my family and the University of Alabama. I never want to disrespect them in any way.
He said this kind of thing over and over. His point: hey, don't ask me about that other guy! I'm me.
However, that second paragraph was interpreted as "I know how to carry myself, unlike Johnny Manziel," and we were off to the races. All of a sudden, McCarron's tweet about not going to the ESPYs was a dig at Manziel, and Manziel's mention that McCarron was his roommate at the Manning Passing Academy was Manziel blaming McCarron for not waking him up. ESPN began treating the two like rival pro wrestlers.
McCarron responded this morning via Twitter, amazed that people managed to make him trying not to say anything about Johnny Manziel into him saying something about Johnny Manziel.
& people have lost their mind if they think I dissed JM in any way. I said I wouldn't comment on another mans life. I told them I was AJ.— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) July 19, 2013
Then I told them how I act and how I live my life. Never said anything on JM and how he should live his life. Y'all can't believe all u hear— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) July 19, 2013
Here's why this is so incredibly stupid. If you were paying attention, SEC Media Days was brilliant. It featured the most terrifying athlete in recent memory naming which quarterbacks are afraid of him.
It featured Steve Spurrier talking, which is incredible without context. It featured ALL THESE PEOPLE, SAYING ALL THESE INCREDIBLE THINGS. There are enough crazy real stories in this ridiculous sport we follow that we don't have to create fake ones.
And besides, it's July 19. In 56 short days, Alabama and Texas A&M play, in College Station, at the Hate Barn. Alabama has been playing the Texas A&M game from last year on the screens in its weight room, 24/7. Both teams have been waiting for that game since last year, and, quite frankly, so have most of us.
It will be phenomenal, and that's regardless of whether or not two talented people who will never appear on the field at the same time have anything to say about the other.