An Open Letter to Johnny Football

{UPDATE, 2/8/13:  I’m happy and incredibly honored to say that Johnny did, in fact, read this letter. He tweeted out the link and all #### broke loose. But it must be said that my intent in writing  it was simple: years from now, I wanted my son to know just what that moment looked like through his momma’s eyes. The fact that Johnny read it too was just icing on the cake. Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing and liking this post. It’s been an honor. Really.}


Dear Johnny,

30 seconds.

So many things in life pass us by in 30-second increments.

Two football plays. A red light. Waiting at the drive-thru. A Superbowl commercial. The last bit of your favorite song on the radio.

I suspect you’ve been asked thousands of times in the last few months for “just thirty-seconds Johnny. This won’t take a minute.” There’s the football to sign, the picture to take, the handshake to share. To you, I’m betting it’s starting to run into one very long, but incredibly exciting and humbling, string of events.

Phone interviews, camera closeups, cameos, late night talk shows, newspaper quotes, tweets and more. You’re 20 and you’re living the dream that some boys think about their entire lives.

Today, though, the 30 seconds you gave my son were more than just a handshake and a photo. They now serve as a lifelong memory.

You see, today he was asked to serve as a Page for the Texas House of Representatives. Ever since we heard the news on Monday, he’s been beside himself. A little more than 25 years ago I served as a Page. He’s been asking me all week, “What do I wear? What do you do? Do you think I’ll meet anybody famous? They won’t ask me to speak in the microphone, will they?” There was an incredible amount of anticipation and honor leading up to that morning.

He borrowed a jacket from a friend, got a slick new haircut and his dad fancied him a double Windsor knot of a tie. Red with a hint of maroon, no less. If you asked Will, though, the best part was “missing school for a day.” He’s 11. Honesty comes easily.

We headed down to the State Capitol early and that’s when we heard the news. A friend of ours is a State Representative and shared the news you were being recognized on the House floor today. “I wonder if I’ll get to see Johnny Manziel today, Mom.”

“I don’t know honey, but it sure will be a fun day no matter what,” I replied.

You see, this is the kid who has cried himself to sleep for darn near every Aggie football game of his entire life. Just last season, after the t.u. debacle, we heard him sobbing in his room. “It’s just so hard to be an Aggie fan,” he cried. But even with the bitter taste of being outscored, year after year, he’s always bled maroon. His dad was a yell leader, so I suspect that love comes natural. Will has proudly worn his Aggie jersey in the lean years and the fruitful ones. It’s so worn, the number “12” is no longer recognizable.

But this year, the entire team made him cry a different tear. One of sweet destiny. He’s followed your every statistic, every play, every touchdown, every moment of glory. I’m certain he’s almost worn out YouTube and 12th Man TV from watching all the videos.

Will’s morning on the floor was full of awesome moments. Rapping the gavel to open the session, shuttling messages to various legislators, getting his photo taken with Representative Dale and being shown around the Chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms. I was the proud mom in the Gallery, taking lots of pictures and shooting him the “thumbs up” sign.

Then I saw him meet you after you were recognized on the House Floor. He proudly shook your hand, took a picture and had you adorn his Page badge with your signature.

Those 30 seconds meant the world to him.

Will, Johnny Manziel_blog

So, on the days that social media gives you the beat down for a tweet you sent out, the reporter blasts you in a story or a passerby has less than stellar words to share, know this:

What you do, what you represent and how you treated my son matter to this family of Aggies. We’re honored to call you a Heisman Trophy Winner, but even more proud to call you an Aggie.

Gig ’em,

A very proud Aggie mom, Class of ’96


*A huge thank you to Rep. Dale for sending our family this photo. Definitely the framing kind.



  1. says

    One of the responsibilities that comes with the reward of being an Aggie is representing Aggieland well. Johnny Manziel’s 30 seconds, your son’s proud and thoughtful sense of duty, and your well-told account all remind us of that. To all of you, thanks and Gig ’em!

  2. Lorena says

    Wonderful post. Your son sounds like my Alex, 10 year old proud Aggie. My husband was in the Corps so he came out singing the Aggie war hymn. Good going, Will!

  3. Marci says

    Fantastic post, brought tears to my eyes!

    By the way, you certainly won’t remember me, but I believe I was one of your Fish at Fish Camp in 1993 (“Camp Daniels, Dr. Seuss, the Cat in the Hat is on the Loose…”). I really hope I’m right, otherwise, I sound like a crazy person!


  4. says

    I’ve stopped by several times for WIWS. What a cool feeling to see that 5 of my facebook friends, none of the WIWS variety, had shared this post! So well written Kathryn! Congrats to your Will, he sure had a really really cool day!

  5. Sefton says

    “You see, this is the kid who has cried himself to sleep for darn near every Aggie football game of his entire life.”

    Hey, I’m not 11 and I can relate.
    But tell Will we waited patiently and the good times are back.

  6. Shanna says

    As a Texan and as an Aggie, thank you for this great post. Your Will, like many true-maroon Aggies, have stood by our team & our school no matter what. On that day at the capitol, he made two memories to last a lifetime and a story to tell over & over again! Congratulations and Gig ‘Em!

  7. Margaret says

    Your post made this Aggie Mom of a 30 year old Aggie son shed a tear or two. The 2012 Aggies helped our family to overcome years of Battered Aggie syndrome. Being an Aggie fan has never been more fun than the past year, and your post said it so well. Congrats to Will for his achievement as a page, and for living the dream of all Aggies everywhere!

  8. Peggy Harper says

    It has been a great year to be an Aggie, or even an Aggie Mom! Almost makes me sad my son will be graduating (but season football tix are still cheaper than tuition). They are all such great young men and women!

  9. AJ Martin says

    Awesome story. From this Aggie dad with a 10 year old that feels the same. All he wanted for Christmas was a Johnny Manziel shirt or Jersey. Since u can’t buy one my wonderful wife bought a maroon Aggie shirt took it to the mall and had a number 2 put on the back with Manziel across the back. He has worn it so much it crazy. Tour story brought tears to my eyes. Awesome memory for your son.

  10. Steven Silvia says

    Peering into the future, I see your son providing 30 seconds to a future Ag as he proudly wears his class ring of 2024………. Gig ’em!!!!

  11. Jim Moore says

    EXCELLENT!!! GREAT way to show what an AGGIE is made of !!! As a Proud member of c/o ’79……I say to You, to your son….and to Johnny ……THANK YOU for the excellent way you represent Texas A&M and Gig ‘Em !!!

  12. Larry says

    I know how you feel. When my son was 9 and at football camp at A&M, he called all excited to tell me that Bucky stopped and played catch with him and and a couple of other boys for about 30 minutes. My son still talks about that day. Those type of memories last a life time.

  13. Jeremy P. says

    This is an awesome story. My eyes got a little misty while reading this. I am proud to call myself an Aggie just like you and Will. Well done.

  14. Panhandle Aggie says

    It is hard being an Aggie fan in the lean years. But 2012 made it all worthwhile. Being part of an Aggie family that does what Johnny did today to make your son smile like that makes being an Aggie great every day no matter what the scoreboard says. I shed Aggie mom tears reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Suzanne says

    Thank you for posting this! I have to say just as the others did it made me shed a couple of tears! Just another reason I am so proud to be an Aggie! Whoop and Gig ‘Em from a member of the Class of ’81

  16. David W. Havard says

    Very positive press Johnny. I respect this mature bahavior of sharing your caring heart with a young man. That’s the Aggie Spirit !

  17. Rick says

    Great story – makes be proud to be an Aggie. Great looking son – I am sure you are a proud Mom.

    God Bless –
    Rick P.
    Class of 87

  18. Linda Childers says

    We’re a Tech family we bleed red and black. Your story made me cry. So fabulous to hear good things about our young people! You go Johnny and you have my vote for next year’s Heisman too.

    • says

      Reg, if by “loaded” you mean loaded with children and blessings, then yes. We are overflowing with abundance. My husband works for a non-profit and is the sole breadwinner for our family of 7. And, entitlement isn’t a word my children practice. Hard work is. I appreciate you stopping by the blog and taking the time to read my letter. This was a beautiful moment of motherhood, please don’t rain on the parade.

      • R Beasley says

        Very well said Kathryn ! My daughter is a first generation Aggie so I am just learning what being an Aggie is all about. Your wonderful letter and all these responses have showed the depth of honor and love for the culture that is Texas A&M. I am so proud that my daughter felt and wanted to be a part of that rich tradition the second she visited there. Thank you for your wonderful post!!!

  19. Beth says

    Not an Aggie, but a lover of great stories and this is wonderful! You have a unique ability (gift, really) to relay life’s daily events in all their beauty, Kathryn. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Rosemary Mach says

    Oh my, this really made me have a tear. Yes, I dearly LOVE my Aggies! I am the proud mom of three that graduated in the class of 2004, 2006, 2008! We spent MANY Saturdays enjoying our sons at Kyle Field. We are blessed to say that two were in the Corps of Cadets and one served on the 12th Man team. Those were great family years. It was worth every penny we scraped and saved for them to go to school there. I would say pretty good for a family with a dad that graduated from the school in Austin!

  21. Kyle Huff says

    Funny what you can find on TexAgs these days! Only to click the link and see Farnum! Very, very cool experience…enjoyed reading it. Hope you are keeping Scott in line. As a fellow Camp Daniels counselor alum it was a double bonus to see the Dr Seuss hump-it still lives on. Will sure looks like his dad….

    Good Bull!

    • Kathryn says

      HA. How fun. We should do a virtual Dr. Seuss shout out. If only I could remember all the words. Scott is kicking himself for not coming down to the Capitol!

  22. Dwayne says

    Great story , young people need a hero . I know Will won’t ever forget !! Can’t imagine the constant pull on your time and spirit Johnny , you are awesome to watch …..God Bless and Gig em With that kind of press you are becoming a modern day BATMAN !!!

  23. Jimmy Simmonds says

    People like Reg don’t deserve the great response you gave because they don’t understand the wonderful feeling that true Ags feel when they hear a great story like yours. Johnny Manziel is fast becoming one of the Great Ambassadors for Texas A&M University one 11 year old at a time. Gig em!

    • Glenn Beacham says

      Thanks for your story. Thanks for your response to Reg!! Will is truly blessed, to be an “Aggie” and have a loving family who truly understand what is important. My Aggie passed this story to me and I am so glad. God Bless you and yours and also Reg.

  24. Bea says

    Tears of pride & happiness here. You know I love Aggie football. But more than that, I love being an Aggie & all that means. Proud of Johnny & Will- character does count, as does the kindness you show others. That is a great story & memorable experience. WHOOP & gig ’em!

  25. MariClare says

    What a wonderful memory for you and your son! You and Scott have always been the epitome of Aggie spirit, it makes my heart happy to see that you have shared that with your son, and he has internalized it so! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful day with us!

  26. says

    Well I have lived in Austin since ’93 and not really that big on the Longhorns but I remember growing up in Minnesota and watching Aggie games on tv and learning of their “Traditions”. I also have a seven year old son an fealt the excitement of this young boy in this story. I also am a HUGE sports fan an love stories like this. Johnny football, in my eyes and throughout many, you are a true “hero”!! Keep. The good work young man!! Oh by the way, ROCK CHALK!! Lol

  27. Jason J. says

    Great post and great picture! Also excellent (maybe fortunate) posing for the photo. Johnny’s head covers the critical topless part of the painting behind him. Maybe you recognize the rest of the painting from a copy on the first floor of the Evans Library, reference section I believe.

    Another great play, Johnny!

  28. says

    Wow……what a great story…and Johnny Football so seems to be the real deal…..along with Coach Sumlin…heck the whole program seems to just have jumped light years after getting out from underneath tu’s shadow….outstanding future Aggie there Mrs. Whitaker! This whole blog reading session has just left me smiling and damn proud to be an Aggie! Whoop! Dale Price ’80

  29. Courtney Lovelace says

    Thank you for sharing!! I have an 11 year old in my home who shares a passion for the Aggies to the same degree. How exciting to meet Johnny Football!! My kiddo would be green with envy!

    On a different note – I went to A&M with Scott. You know – Yell Leaders are magical too… In the years I knew Scott, I never once saw him deny any child or fan the opportunity to have a picture or shake his hand. He was a great friend to the student body and the enormous Aggie Nation. I always appreciated him!! Sometimes being the best Aggie you can be pays off years later for your 11 year old super fan! He certainly has a great Dad!

  30. jennifer 98 says

    Hope you know this is going viral in the Aggie Network ! Amazing experience for your son and nice to see that Aggie spirit in them both. I have two sons as well that are younger but would dream of a moment like this ! Congrats and thanks for sharing ! Whoop!

  31. D.P. Youngblood says

    60 years ago, an Aggie quarterback was MY hero, Roddy Osborn. He sat in front of me in church and even came to the house to eat Sunday dinner. Those were the first years that you could see an Aggie football game on TV. And there was my hero on TV in our house.
    Johnny has become a hero to a lot of young kids. He is the living embodiment of what an Aggie should be. I pray that Johnny continue his enthusiastic winning spirit and be the hero that can be admired for many years to come.

  32. Amy says

    This story is why it’s truly amazing to be an Aggie! I would expect nothing less of Johnny, and am so thrilled that he made time for your son. That impact will shape his years more than Johnny knows. Coming from a mom of two girls who have a Johnny poster up in their room, I could not ask for a better role model (well, maybe minus the brush up with the fake ID, but hey, we all do crazy things in college). And the Capitol is an amazing place to be the backdrop to a great story. I still get nervous everytime I go in those chambers for Muster, such hallowed ground, just like Aggieland! Gig ’em!

  33. Cori Hembree Kerr says

    So, I read this awesome letter and was so touched, as so many others were. I enjoyed reading the comments, too. And then I read one that referenced Farnum and I said, “I know this Mom!”. Kathryn from Dumas :). And I felt an even greater connection to this awesome Aggie family! I enjoyed this letter even more than I enjoy your Mom’s Christmas letters that I get to read at my Mom’s house every year! Thanks for sharing this experience with us. So excited for Will! Would love to meet your family next time we are in Austin!

  34. Baylie Miller '11 says

    This is such an awesome post. I can’t help it and I have to ask…are you Carla Whitaker’s daughter in law?

  35. McCrea Miller '95 says

    Wow. I can honestly say that’s one of the best Aggie posts I’ve seen anywhere in a long, long, time. Thanks for being an awesome Aggie parent!

  36. says

    Thanks so much for this! Add me to the list crying happy tears for you and your son. Johnny has turned our Aggie world upside down and could not be prouder of what he has brought to our university. Next, National Championship!

  37. Bonnie O'Donnell Martin '88 says

    As a proud Aggie former student and wife, mother of three (including a 12-year old who proudly wears his 12th Man Jersey in a Louisiana middle school overrun with LSU fanatics), longtime worshipper of Dr. Seuss, and unapologetic Johnny Football zealot, I enjoyed every facet of your wonderful post. Thanks for the smiles, best wishes for continued blessings, and Gig ’em!

  38. Jackie Watz says

    Well said! We were there! We had no idea this all was going to happen. Our children were just as excited just to be there and observe all the children on the floor. The we’re just as excited for them. So glad we all could share a bit of history together.

  39. Kathryn Fajfar says

    I couldn’t help but tear up reading this as a current Aggie student and member of the Corps of Cadets. Johnny has made me proud in the way he holds himself since he won the Heisman. A lot of people get stuck up after such an accomplishment, but he has stayed down-to-Earth through the whole process. It’s great to see how he exemplifies what A&M is really about in his actions, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next year! :)

    ~Kath F.

  40. Wally Simpson says

    Some may boast of prowess bold
    Of the school they think so grand,
    But there’s a Spirit that ne’er been told;
    It’s the Spirit of Aggieland.

    Good Bull, Johnny Football and I am sure that Will did an OUTSTANDING job as Page. As a member of the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 1987, I am sure that Will is going to grow up to be a fine representative of Texas A&M University in the future.

  41. says

    Great Story. Having worked in the Legislature I know how exciting those things can be, but to also get to meet you QB…what an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing.

    Gig’em. ’94

  42. says

    I found this through a link on Facebook from an Aggie friend of mine. While I’m a Mustang and our family blood runs red, white and blue, I just wanted to say that I am shedding a happy tear for your son right now. This was a very touching post. All of our athletes, both collegiate and professional, should show the same generosity of spirit and class as Johnny did in that moment.

  43. Lisa Briggs '82 says


    Scott sent us the picture but, David’s Dad told us about your letter. I can
    absolutely picture Will’s excitement! Tell Will you can watch the Bama game on Utube with Vern Lundquist commentating – he’ll love it.

    Give everyone a hug from us – hope our football tickets are together next year.

    Lisa B.

  44. says

    I was totally impressed by your letter. I can now say I am more impressed with Johnny Manziel than ever before. He is not only a great atheletic, but one solid young man. He has made this old aggie proud for what he has accomplished on field and now off also.
    “Gig’em Aggies”

  45. Lisa Mc. '84 says

    A wonderful, heartwarming letter that brought tears to my eyes! Saw the link on FB last night and immediately shared! So often all that is written is negative comments and people don’t take the time to write and share the positive like you did. As an Aggie daughter, former student, and current Aggie mom, I say “Thanks and Gig’em!”

  46. Candy Covington says

    Great story! I love that Johnny has been such a class act and such a good role model. Very proud of him and TAMU. Also an Aggie ’96!

  47. says

    This made my heart smile! I’m happy to see Johnny being portrayed in a positive light! Your son is going to remember this forever!

    Gig ’em
    Katy ’14

  48. Ed Garrod '82 says

    Thanks for sharing this! And Gig Em to Will.. Has he gone and watched the highlights of Johnny from his last three years at Tivy High school?.. Great videos!
    Gig Em from Beaumont!

  49. Joseph Muniz '85 says

    Great Story and further proof of what Aggies value and how much Johnny Manziel exudes those characteristics.

  50. Nicole '04 says

    I just cried… So happy for your son, so proud of Johnny Manziel and what a class act he is. I could not be more proud to be an Aggie.

  51. Cindy '77 says

    Thanks for a wonderful story. You truly have a gift of the pen. I, like many others, shed a tear! How lucky your son was. Gig ’em!!
    Aggie & Aggie mom of two!!

  52. Carmen '04 says

    This was so beautiful, brought tears to this mom’s eyes!! Thanks so much for sharing, and YES we are so proud of Johnny, he is a great example of what it means to be an Aggie!!

  53. Mike '86 says

    This big, Old Army class of 86 man shed a few as well. We all know the passion, love, humility, and yes tears like Will has shed for our school. It gives me hope to know that Spirit is living on in the next generation – Gig’em Will, YOU are my hero!

  54. Reese '97 says

    What’s amazing to me is how powerful stories and inspirational experiences like this can make unforgettable positive impacts on both kids and grown-ups. My wife (’98) and I (’97) loved this whole post. Our kids, 5-yrs and 1-yr, have tons to look forward to about Aggie Culture and don’t even know it yet. The last time I was this excited about Aggie Football was in 1998; the year A&M pulled off the upset against K-State in the Big 12 Championship game. Props to Johnny as always, and I hope Will learns how to be a good politician, if it is even possible. GIG EM!!!

  55. Sue says

    As an Aggie mom & long time fan ( they didn’t have Maggie’s when I was at SHS) I couldn’t be prouder for you & your family. May the spirit of your family & Aggieland live on.
    I’m hoping for some little AGGIES from my 4 grandchildren !

  56. Randy says

    I don’t know if I am more proud of Johnny Football as being from my home town or for winning the Heisman. But I know this, I am dang proud of him as an fellow Aggie!

  57. Bob Kubala says

    I’m a Longhorn, and I love this guy. We all need somebody to admire, imulate, and strive to be like. Johhny Football is that guy. He’s a football player. He’s not big like most. His heart is bigger than most. True worth is more than the color of one’s jersey.

  58. Lance says

    What a great story. So happy for your son for his opportunity to serve on the house floor and then get the thrill of a lifetime. I expected no less from Johnny , and he is blessed to be able to touch people in this way. 2012 made all the other years worth it. gigem!

  59. HH says

    I’m a Longhorn and I stil LOVE this! And I love Johnny Football. Great blog post and what a great day for your son. Congrats on raising such a cool kid, as well!

  60. Ravae says

    Howdy Kathryn! It is so good to see you again. Love Will’s story – he sounds like my Kyle. So happy to see another good Catholic Aggie who is raising a sweet family. My husband sent me your story and wondered if I knew you. Heck yes! Fish Camp, Traditions….beautiful Kathryn who looks EXACTLY as she did in Aggieland.

    Gig ’em,
    Ravae ’96

  61. Rosemary Mach says

    I received your email today. I was so excited to see that your husband and brother were both in the Corps. Our sons were also in A-l, and we soooo loved that unit. Our oldest son, Will, is currently serving in the 75th Army Ranger Regiment. He unfortunately was in a parachute accident in October, and has been on convalescent leave recuperating with us. We are praying for his return back to duty within the next month. I just spoke to Will asking him about the Whitaker name, it sounded so familiar! Yes, I remember your brother-in-law. He was Will’s commander when he was a freshman. I remember your precious mother-in-law and how hard she worked for A-l. She would drive in from Bowie and work like crazy during those football game weekends. She has a heart of gold. Please send her our regards and I still appreciate all that she did. What a wonderful family!

  62. Neva Friedrich says

    That was wonderful. My son garduated with the class of “85” and his son my grandson will start next fall at A&M. He is hoping to be in the Fighting Aggie Band. So we too will be watching Johnny Football. We pray for him to, that is doesn’t hurt and all goes well for him. God Bless!

  63. John C Ellisor says

    Great story, and thanks for sharing!!
    WHOOP!! Something tells me that honoring the request of this fine young man is the least of what Johnny expects of himself.

  64. Christine says

    I can’t believe I am so far behind on your blog I am just reading this now! I cried too. So happy for you and Will! Definitely an amazing story.

  65. says

    Hi Kathryn,
    So last year, my daughter called me (from UTSA) and said that she was going to the wrong school – that she was an Aggie and needed to transfer to A&M. I said, awesome, I always wanted to be an Aggie Mom – so start the paperwork! She got in and so being an Aggie Mom is new to me – being an Aggie fan is new – but my love affair with A&M started at orientation! It was a totally different experience than UTSA. We really are Aggies and proud of it! When they shared what A&M stands for and what they planned on instilling in my teenage daughter and all her classmates, I was all in! I never worry about her at A&M – she is home in College Station. In fact, sometimes, almost too much – we don’t get the frequent visits we did when she was in San Antonio and it was 2X the distance!

    What an honor it has been to watch Johnny Manziel and the Aggies this year! I would have watched regardless but it is way more fun when they win (I’m with ya, Will!) I feel like it is so wonderful to be a part of a school with great tradition and history! Thank you for sharing this wonderful letter and – I cried through most of it! Life is full of wonderful 30 seconds and I appreciate you sharing yours with us and bringing a smile and tears of joy!

    Love, JOY & Peace,
    ~ Kristy


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