An Open Letter to Johnny Manziel

Dear Johnny:

I live in what was once your home town. I have a son who cannot wait to be old enough to proudly sport a Tivy Antlers jersey. I have a son who watched you play high school football and even met you a time or two when you still lived here. This same son quickly broke his mama’s burnt orange heart and converted to an Aggie when you committed to A&M. He has your jersey and still wears it with great pride. And that’s why, even though you’ll likely never see this, I have to write this letter.

My son, and my family, watch every game. Even this burnt orange wearing mom has cheered you on since blue & gold were your Friday Night Lights colors. But besides the games, unfortunately, we’ve also watched the mistakes in the public eye. How can we miss them? Until recently, you paraded them around on social media as if you felt you were untouchable. And that’s led us, and many other parents I’m sure, to have hard conversations with our son. Conversations that talk about character being more important than fame. Conversations about your true worth not being found in your athletic ability, but in your daily actions that define you as a person. Conversations about the responsibility that comes with success and fame. Conversations about how you are a great athlete, but not a great role model.

But here’s the thing. My 6th grade son teaches me a lot about life. And even after today’s game he sees redemption for you. As I sat, as a very frustrated fan and mom, watching you trash talk and wondering if you’ve learned a single lesson lately…as I sat (ok, I don’t sit. I walk around as much as coaches and talk at players like you can hear me) and told you to get the chip off your shoulder and just play…I listened to my son see the good. He still sees (as America does) what a tremendous athlete you are. He still sees that you’re not just good at football, you have a gift. He still sees that Tivy High School Senior that came to his elementary school and worked with some of the kids during PE. And he talked about it today, with a little disappointment in his voice because of the choices you’ve made recently.

Then I remembered something. The day I became a Johnny fan. And football had nothing to do with it. I remembered a high school boy at dinner with his family (at Acapulco’s in Kerrville) and my then elementary age son DYING to go say hi. We wouldn’t let him because we wanted your family to eat in peace. But just days before that you had been at his school. He met you. And was convinced that made you life long friends. As we were leaving, my son made eye contact with you and you said hi. I don’t know if you remembered him or not, but my son was convinced you did. The two of you exchanged a quick conversation and we went on our way. But you left an impression on me. A good one. I saw a kid who, even though you were getting a lot of local press and your star was rising, still took time to talk to my son. You didn’t have to. And that day I became a fan.

I’m still a fan. Because I think you’re still that kid from Tivy High School who can flash that winning smile and make a 4th grader’s day. You’ve beat Alabama, resurrected a storied football program, won a Heisman and a bowl game. But I think at your core, you’re still a good person. Who carries, and has cracked under the weight of, a lot of responsibility and pressure.

But my son is teaching me to see the chance for redemption in everyone. And that’s what he sees in you right now. So, as a mom, I’m choosing to see it, too. I don’t know your parents, but I’m guessing your mom has had some frank talks with you. So as a mom, I’m going to have a frank talk “at” you.

Refocus on your faith. Somewhere in all of this, the faith you’ve talked about has left the forefront. Your faith will ground you, strengthen you, and give you the confidence to walk away from the trash talk that will be there. It will be there. IGNORE it!

Stay away from social media. I think someone else has already gotten that point across though, because you haven’t broadcasted your life in a while. And that’s a good thing. Yes, you have fans that want to “see” your life. But honestly, it’s no one’s business. Allow yourself a private life. You don’t owe anyone pictures. And as you’ve seen, those who don’t want you to succeed will use this all against you.

Remember that little eyes are watching you. Kids look up to you. And as a parent, it’s never fun to have to knock a knight off of his horse. I want my son to look up to you as a person who made mistakes, but found redemption. As a person who acknowledged mistakes and righted the ship. As a person who earned respect, not because of athletic ability but because of character in the face of trial. Stop being a lesson in what not to do. And start living your God-given potential. Notice nothing that I’ve said here has anything to do with football? Because IT DOESN’T MATTER! If you don’t live a life of character and fulfill your God-given potential, NONE OF IT matters.

It’s not too late to right the ship. It’s not too late to sit down with your family, your coaches, your teammates be accountable and be the leader you were created to be. There’s a reason you weren’t voted a Team Captain this year. And it has nothing to do with your age. You have a God-given gift. You could be one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. You have a platform to make a difference, to influence lives, to do good. And I may be in the minority and maybe a little naive, but I believe you want to do it right. But you have to start doing it differently and surround yourself with people who will keep you grounded.

You have a gift. And for now, you still have this family as fans. And we’re looking hard for reasons to stay fans. And we pray for you. Not because we know you, but because we’ll never understand the pressure you feel or the weight of the responsibility you carry. And because we’ve all made our own mistakes. And have found redemption. The same that’s there for you.


Beth Bates
Wife, mom, fan
TFND (because Gig ’em just isn’t in my vocabulary. Have I mentioned I bleed burnt orange?)

421 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Johnny Manziel

  1. Johnny Manziel has proven himself to be a joke. Nothing more than a party boy. His talent was vastly overstated, his ability as a leader was misjudged. The only thing that has been accurately attributed to Manziel is his propensity to crawl into a bottle and throw any hope of a career away. His ability to squander opportunities is astounding. Never have I witnessed someone so irresponsible and unapologetic. It has been hilarious watching this boy throw his life away. Luckily his family has money, leading me to believe that at least somebody in the family had enough sense and discipline to become successful. While Johnny Manziel will never understand what success is, at least he has his family to fall back on to pick up his bar tab.


  2. Wow, I’m very impressed with this, as all this news was surfacing about him I would have assumed that this guy was a total jerk but as I started to do a little bit more research I found out that he does have good in him. He does a lot for a sick little boy and from another fan he visits childeren in the hospital. Although, I can’t call myself a fan of his I believe he can redeem himself. I can fully understand that he’s made mistakes, but we all have once in our lives and making mistakes is all part of what makes us human. But unlike most, I am willing to offer second chances to someone that only just a few months ago I knew nothing about up until the point where all the negative attention was coming about. Day after day I fnid myself warming up to him. He’s a talented football player, there’s no doubt about that but at the end of the day none of that matters, if one is of celebrity status such as himself should be able to carry themselves in a likeable manner.


      • You’re very welcome, I believe it will good always overcomes bad even in the worst of situations. It just upsets me that he’s gotten so much hate recently, I mean i know it comes with the territory, but he’s just a kid and I can’t imagine how it must feel to be at a pedestal so high so young, it’s very easy to lose focus on what’s important and to allow all the fame and attention to go straight to one’s head.


  3. One thing you might wish to have considered was to send your remarks to Mr. Manziel himself. I think he would appreciate and respect them much more if received privately rather than seeing them on Facebook..


  4. Bless you Ma’am. Your letter has made a difference in my opinion of young Mr. Manziell . Forgiveness and compassion and second chances are such wonderful gifts. You make all of us who read your letter a little better people.


  5. Great words from a caring mom, neighbor, and fan!!! There was no bashing just reassurance that should be at the top of anyone’s list!!! We have all fallen to some level of what Johnny is going through but it is the character of the person that brings you back and grounds you to the more important things that matter. As spoken so clearly, it doesn’t matter about football because when Johnny is 50 is that going to do anything for him that day, week, month or year? No, it is his character that will be there that defines the person that he is at that moment!!


  6. Pingback: Seems everybody has advice for Johnny Football «

  7. Just thought you might like to teach your son about the things Johnny has done that doesn’t make it into the media. You might show him the Johnny we know. As for his so called off field antics, I don’t see how he has acted any different from any other college student. He was thrown out of a party? OMG. Turns out it was a tu frat party. Of course they threw him out, he is the star Aggie Quarterback that they turned down. If you are stopping your children from watching him. Maybe they shouldn’t watch NFL either, or any of the other teams. Johnny may not be perfect, but then who is. I can certainly think of Heisman winners who are much worse than Johnny. O.J. Simpson comes to mind. Just my two cents, for what its worth.


  8. Appreciate the genuine concerns from a mothers heart. Quick thoughts: 1) Don’t count on J Manziel to raise your son and set an example for him, that isn’t J Manziel’s responsibility it is yours. 2) Although we may influence it, we cannot control the world, your son will live in a world filled with many examples of bad role models in highly influential places. There are lessons to be learned from this for your son about values, character, and right and wrong even in the midst of public praise or criticism. 3) We can all find both the good and bad in people. Your son can aspire to play football like J Manziel, but carry himself like many other character role models in the world. Best of luck, the world needs more people like you. Judging by your concern, it sounds like your son is in great hands.


  9. Although I agree in some respects, I don’t think it’s your place to chime in here. His coaches and parents have that role. And you are admittedly a TU fan.


    • She has every right to do so if her child is a fan of JM. WTH does it have to do with “tu”? This isn’t about school affiliation, it’s about behavior and being worried about how it influences your children. Thank goodness my child isn’t a JM fan, because, yes, we bleed burnt orange, but we would certainly temper his obsession if he focused on Case, especially after his bad decision in December. There were no charges filed, correctly, but still not good judgement on the part of Case—kind of like the NCAA decision regarding JM and signatures, not good judgement on JM’s part, that is if you seriously believe he did it for free.


  10. I don’t even understand how I stopped up right here, however I believed this publish was great. I do not understand who you’re however definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you happen to aren’t already. Cheers!


    • You cannot defend Johnny football’s actions, period. It is horrible in that everyone knows he took money for the autographs and to do what he did is inexcusible…should have been sat down period. He is a great athlete but should be held accountable for his actions.


  11. Pingback: المدينة المنورة | Beth Bates, Texas Mom, Writes Open Letter To Johnny Manziel To Be Better Role Model For Her Son

  12. Who is Johnny Manzell?He is a young man that is prone to making some not so good decesions like many young people.The letter from Beth Bates was written from here heart and she is only being truthful.I bleed Crimson for my Sooners but I pray that every one gives Johnny a chance to mature as a man,his football talents are with out question.Very well written letter Mrs.Bates,now I ask everyone to keep Mr.Manzell in their prayers.


  13. Beth: You are a very smart and genuine person. For you to expose personal thoughts in the manner that you did, all the while knowing you would receive both extreme praise and criticism; I SAY KUDOS TO YOU MA’AM. The fact that you made it a point to provide such detailed background, genuine feedback, and intimate conversations that have taken place in your household is appreciated. You made sure to also provide who you are, from a personal standpoint, not shying away from your Longhorn associations. You also eloquently communicated your love for the community of Kerville-Tivy and shared your families first hand interactions with Johnny Manziel.

    Am I biased because I know you and your family. Am I biased because I am a University of Texas Graduate. Am I biased because the majority of the state are either for UT or for A&M. Am I biased because I bleed orange. Am I biased because I love Austin. Am I biased because I have never chosen to step foot in College Station, let alone the campus of Texas A&M. Am I biased that I am born and raised in San Antonio which isn’t all that far from Kerville. Perhaps and yet I could go on and on. The point is we all have bias and it’s a part of who we are and a part of life.

    Instead of bias, what I thoroughly respect about you and how you drafted this letter was the way you came at it from larger shared associations. You came at this from the perspective of a concerned mother, a football fan, a Texan, a Christian, and a person. Many individuals of course can relate to some and perhaps all of those. While others can of course relate to possibly only a few, or none of those at all. Yet, you tried to be as fair and impartial as possible while still humanizing yourself to help assist in getting your words across to the audience.

    Remember when UT was in the National Championship and there were Maroon shirts with a picture of a Longhorn upside down with the horns separated, that read “Saw Them Off, Accept for Today.” Well, that was A&M supporting Texas. Remember when there was the horrible and very sad A&M Bonfire Tragedy. Well, Texas made sure to respectfully perform vigils and ceremonies on campus. Well, that was Texas supporting A&M. I use those extreme examples not attempting to compare the two, but to provide some personal historical insight. The history between UT and A&M is storied, proven, documented, was here way before us, and will be here way after us. It at times has been a very forceful and bumpy past. However, what I welcome is when the time comes to support one another, it happens. That’s is of 100% value and speaks to both the Aggies and Longhorn faithful.

    In my less than eloquent rambling here, what I’m trying to say is this: Johnny is young and we were all there at one point. We don’t know what Johnny is going through, nor his complete past, his current trials, nor his future goals and/or associated fears. Social Media will forever be all about ratings. Even when they are trying to do good, but in most cases they are ripping people apart. What’s even more unfortunate is when the media acts as if they are better and have a lack of caring for those they negatively impact, especially the young who may make mistakes. That is something I hope will be corrected by removing such sensationalism from reporting and remembering these people are someone’s son, daughter, mother, father, brother, husband, wife, friend, etc.

    Beth: Your genuine concern for this young adult is one thing; GENUINE. Many people come from various sides of this discussion for a plethora of reasons. Everyone has very passionate opinions, beliefs, morals, values, and backgrounds. What I hope is not lost from either side is that Johnny Manziel is young. He is attempting to go through that very awkward stage of trying to find himself, his voice, and his way in this world in a very public manner. I do hope that your letter does reach him in some capacity. If it’s not the letter specifically, then I hope the pieces of genuine advice and life lessons are evident and shared by his experiences and interactions with those who love him, support him, and have the blessing and opportunity to know him directly.

    Thanks again for taking the time, being brave, and sharing your voice.

    Your Friend, Herb.
    The University of Texas, ’02.


    • Since I commented on Beth’s letter, I have received an e-mail with all the comments, some should not even be printed they are so vulgar! Yours is by far the nicest, sincere letter which i hope Johnny gets to read as well. We all have our own opinions, which we are entitled to, but you said it beautifully. I too hope Johnny gets through all this unscathed and continues to thrill us with his talent on the football field. I sincerely hope he listens to what his fans, family, coaches and true friends are saying and makes decisions that are best for him. As a side note, I found an outfit for my 3 year old grandson the other day bearing number 2 on the jersey. I will continue looking for a smaller size for his 1 year old brother. I am proud to have them wear this uniform and will continue to be proud of Johnny Manziel.


  14. JF needs to step out as that leader and be talking we as a team are here at Aggieland to now win a National Championship. He has got to learn how to control the Head Games and stay focused. Guess that is why his own dad will not play Golf with him and that explosive attitude. Would like to get him out on a hunting lease and take him to the woods and see what kind of real man he is. Better yet let the Corp take him to the Quad and explain it to him and tie him up in a mattress cover.


  15. Bobby don’t be a condescending idiot.. Especially behind a computer. Don’t assume everyone thinks like a ‘reasonable parent.’ I don’t have any kids. If you want to shelter yours, go ahead. This is a blog and the comments are meant for discussion, not agreement. That being said, you are not a celebrity and do not know what it is like. Until you do, don’t judge them so harshly.


    • I did not hide behind my computer David, I put my email address for idiots like you to respond directly to me. With that said, let us parents continue to write opinions about parenting!


    • David, it’s a lot easier to call people names behind a computer, isn’t it. It usually benefits everyone to think about what you are going to say instead of going on emotions and attacking. Your post is no better than his, and will probably only anger him. Sheltering kids is a term that gets thrown out a lot, but the fact that his kid knows about Miley means she is not that sheltered. Allowing them to know about, but not condoning, supporting or encouraging your kid to idolize people who make those decisions is not sheltering them. Its helping them to be like the many great athletes that don’t make the same foolish decisions when they get famous, and there are many of them out there. I agree we shouldn’t judge so harshly, but maybe calling him an idiot and judging HIS behavior isn’t the best way to get your point across. And if you continue to read Beth’s post past the opening, you will see the entire message is about not judging JM so harshly, and encouraging him, which is hopefully what he gets from someone that he will listen to. A 21yr a few generations ago had a career, family and had a lot more expected out of them than the present, where you are allowed to act like a kid for 4-8 more years in college. I know, because that’s what I used that time for, but I know a few guys that were and are men at that age.


  16. Pingback: Why I’m tired of hearing about Johnny Manziel. | Epicuriously Living

  17. Well said!! Now let’s let Miley know how big of an ass she made of herself last week @ VMA’s! Went through the same issues with my 6 year-old daughter!! As for you haters, mind your own business, & do not read her blog if all you are going to do is criticize it! Any “reasonable thinking” parent would agree that today’s athlete’s, entertainers, etc have a “personal responsibility” when they become visible as Manziel & Miley make themselves. She has made millions off parents like myself buying her purses, cd’s, downloads, etc, as I have the past 5-6 years. Big Johnny will soon be making millions, (unless someone cheap shots him & breaks a leg, arm, neck), & the way he flaunts his wonderful, “God” given talent on social media, and more, he needs to understand there are many 12 year-old midget league football players idolizing him & watching his EVERY move! Hats off bethbates! You go girl! Now let me here from you knucklehead parents of little girls who disagree that Miley’s performance was anything less than a soft porn video!! just sayn


  18. Mrs. Bates, You’re right!!! My nephew is a senior at Tivy this year and he looked up to Johnny as well! But the big difference with Bailey (McKinney) and all Christian football players is that they look up to God and know he will never fail them. I believe if Johnny had God in his life he wouldn’t be acting this way. TFND from one proud auntie


  19. I absolutely understand you bleed orange. It is obvious from your being so critical.Exactly what has he done? . You have not said anything about what Johnny Manziel has done that is bad. Talks back to players that are openly following him to the sidelines talking bad to him. You know he didn’t start that. I have four grown children and am 75 years old and am amazed at the letter you wrote. You don’t have to watch him play you don’t have to allow your children to watch him play. But you are passing judgement on things you don’t even know about. I am surprised. Guess you needed a little attention.


  20. I read a story today about how we reacted to Johnny’s antics would shape the future of sports. I think your letter shows that’s true but on the most basic level. What lessons our children will learn. Thank you and bless you for your thoughts and compassion.


  21. I think David has it right. I’m surprised that Johnny Football is not overwhelmed with what he has accomplished at this early age. People are expecting too much from this young kid. There is not a thing wrong with how he conducts himself on the football field. He gets words from opposing teams and players. When he responds because he is competitive, he gets criticized. In every instance I’ve seen, it has been the opposition that starts the confrontation. Beth Bates has written a great letter, but there is nothing specific as to what she disapproves of regarding how Johnny acts.
    Fans, please give the kid a break and let him enjoy his fame.


  22. You can’t expect a 21 year old kid to act like a role model. All that spotlight would expose the actions of any guy that age. Sure, you’re a mother and you care about some things more than the average dude, but it is not right to speak down at him like he’s really really messed up. He can live his own life and make his own mistakes. That’s the only way to learn. Every road has potholes and he’s gonna learn to drive around them as he gets older and more mature.


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  26. Pingback: Beth Bates, Texas Mom, Writes Open Letter To Johnny Manziel To Be Better Role Model For Her Son ,Vancouver Island, Canada

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