“Untold: Johnny Football” provides a stark juxtaposition to last week’s Jake Paul documentary in several aspects. Unlike Jake Paul, who meticulously crafted his “bad boy” image and thrived on controversy, footballer Johnny Manziel was thrust into the spotlight prematurely and grappled with its ramifications.
Manziel’s career soared and plummeted almost as swiftly as it commenced, rendering his narrative a cautionary tale against the media’s influence and the overwhelming pressure imposed on young individuals suddenly thrust into the unforgiving glare of the public.
The documentary commences by likening Johnny Manziel’s prominence to that of legendary icons Elvis or the Beatles. However, for those unacquainted with NFL football, his journey might remain unfamiliar. Yet, this 70-minute documentary adeptly presents the entire trajectory, tracing his roots from childhood and culminating in his time as a football player at Texas A&M College.
A naturally endowed athlete, Manziel defied conventions early on by eschewing rigorous training and disregarding the established ethos of his college football team. This dichotomy portrays him as a blend of innate talent and unbridled individuality.
A significant portion of the documentary delves into the pivotal game against Alabama after A&M’s induction into the SEC, which catapulted Manziel’s meteoric rise. However, this victory also marked the commencement of his catastrophic downfall.
Alongside this narrative arc, the documentary raises thought-provoking issues, notably the exploitation of athletes like Manziel by colleges and the NCAA, reaping significant profits without adequately compensating the individuals whose efforts drive the success of college football.
The documentary employs a mosaic of interviews with acquaintances, family, agents, and Manziel himself to enrich the narrative. These interviews, coupled with Johnny’s personal reflections, offer profound insights into the moments that shaped his career.
An overarching theme throughout the documentary is the immense pressure that Johnny Manziel endured. The relentless media scrutiny exacerbated this pressure, ultimately pushing him toward a tumultuous downward spiral. The documentary leaves the future of this football star uncertain, yet Netflix’s latest offering adeptly captures his journey up to this juncture.