Weekend at Johnny’s

I traveled across America walking in Johnny Manziel’s shoes, sitting in his bar seats and passing through his velvet ropes. What I discovered, from College Station to West Hollywood and back again, is a wanderer with no place to call home.

By Michael J. Mooney

September 14, 2016

Behind the bar is a tall man with a bleach-blond mohawk, stretched earlobes and a black replica basketball jersey from the movie Space Jam. He’s wearing a turquoise wristwatch and his cutoff jean shorts are rolled up above his knees. There’s an elephant-shape disco ball hanging overhead and dozens of beers on draft, all with uniform wooden taps. By late afternoon, the only open seat is near the end of the bar. To the left, a young man sipping a Bud Light appears to be studying for some sort of pilot’s exam. To the right, two men in their early 30s are sharing a pitcher of “Kentucky Mule”—like a Moscow Mule, but with bourbon instead of vodka—and discussing their respective weightlifting regimens.

This is Bodega, a popular gastropub about a mile from the Ohio State University campus. It’s the bar where Johnny Manziel was famously photographed Thursday, April 28, the night of the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.

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