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July 24, 2013
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When Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel took center stage at last week's SEC Media Days, the Texas A&M quarterback probably spent more time talking about his exploits off the field than on.
Not all of it was good.
The Aggie quarterback was grilled on number of subjects, including why he left the recent Manning Quarterback Camp to his tweet where he stated he couldn't wait to leave College Station.
Manziel later deleted the tweet. However, during his countless interviews in Hoover, Manziel was unabashed when quizzed on his behavior, citing the fact that he was only 20 years old and didn't plan on changing who he was or what he did.
Manziel also expressed exasperation of having to live in the kind of fishbowl that he and other star athletes often find themselves having to do.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray can certainly relate.
"It's tough because you've really got to be careful what you do. It's so easy these days for people to rip their phone out and take a quick picture, something you didn't have to worry about 10 years ago or 15 years ago," Murray said.
"You can go places and be free to do anything and nobody would have any proof of anything but now all it takes is one Tweet, one Instagram, one Vine so you've got to be careful. You've got to be careful what you say, everything. It can be a little stressful but it comes with the territory."
Murray certainly speaks from experience. Although he still likes to head out with friends when the rare opportunity presents itself, he constantly has to be aware of his surroundings.
Fame can have its drawbacks, but according to tight end and close friend Arthur Lynch, his quarterback handles that aspect as well as one could expect.
"For a guy who has earned a lot and been given a lot of opportunities, he really does have a humble background," Lynch said.
"Friends, family and football - those are his three F's, he doesn't really care much about anything else because he really wants to do right by his family and his team, so he takes that into consideration. He understands he's in the spotlight."
Head coach Mark Richt agrees. "I'll bet he does more community service than anybody. Just walking down the street for him, going to the grocery store, whatever, becomes a little bit of a community service project in that people stop him, they want to talk to him, they ask for pictures for their children or for themselves or autographs," Richt said. "He's a very gracious ambassador for Georgia. He's a blessing to us."
Lynch can attest to that.
He's seen it first-hand.
"People love the Falcons, but I bet if both guys were in a restaurant in Atlanta more people would go up to Aaron than they would Matt Ryan," Lynch said. "I might be wrong but, I know in Massachusetts nobody worries about the BC quarterback, they worry about the pro quarterback but I think it's the reverse roles down here. He takes it well.
"He never turns down anybody for an autograph or a picture. If you see how much he actually gets asked, you'd appreciate how he conducts himself on a daily basis in public and behind closed doors. I don't know if I could do it the same way, that's why he's in the position and I'm not."
Back to Manziel.
Neither Lynch nor Murray blame the redshirt sophomore for handing his business the way he does.
In fact, Murray admits he's made some mistakes he's had to learn from, too.
But experience is the ultimate teacher, and he says lessons have been definitely learned.
For myself, I've had my time of having fun. I'm an old man now. I've had three or four years of enjoying college so I try to stay away from that kind of stuff nowadays, but it's tough because you do want to enjoy college, you do want to enjoy that part of life, but you've got to realize, there's 40 or 50 thousand kids who would love to enjoy what I do," Murray said. "They can't go on the field, they can't put the G on their helmet; they can't run in Sanford Stadium and get to do what we're doing. It goes back and forth. You can do things that they can't and they can do things that you can't. That's just the way it is and you accept that."