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Like The Rule Or Not, Manziel Allegedly Violated An NCAA Biggie

manziel-for-sale-jerseyBy now you know that Johnny Manziel is back in the news again.  ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program reported yesterday that the Texas A&M quarterback is under NCAA investigation for “signing hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia” for profit.  The signings reportedly took place in January “in exchange for a five-figure flat fee during his trip to Miami for the Discover BCS National Championship.”  Two anonymous source claim to have witnessed the signing, but not the cash exchange.

In the immediate aftermath of the ESPN report, many columnists have focused just as much attention on the NCAA’s rule — viewed by many as a bad one — as they have what would be another instance of Manziel showing poor judgement.  Unfortunately for Manziel and Texas A&M, whether people like the rule or not, it is in place.  It is the law of the college land.  And if the NCAA can prove that Manziel violated it — a five-figure deal would be quite brazen — the most exciting player in college football might not play as much ball this fall as everyone had hoped.

If you are not a fan of the NCAA’s rules on amateur status, that’s fine.  But as long as the NCAA is going to be a home to amateur athletics, the rule does make sense.  Here’s why: Imagine Player X is a hotshot recruit from the state of Alabama.  Now imagine that players were allowed to profit from memorabilia sales only — they wouldn’t be paid, but they could sell their autograph or jerseys.  What would stop Alabama and Auburn boosters — just going on past precedents for the sake of example — from telling Player X that they would buy $10,000 worth of the kid’s memorabilia every year while he’s at Bama?  Or on the Plains?  What would stop Ohio State or Southern Cal boosters from offering more “memorabilia sales?”  Such a loophole would be big enough for cheating boosters to drive a limo through.

So as is the case with most NCAA rules, this particular loophole is closed completely.  If it were opened even a inch that gap would be exploited.

As long as college athletes are to be considered amateur athletes, selling memorabilia will be outlawed.  The problem for A&M is that Manziel appears to be a scofflaw.  For all the complaining he and his family have done about Texas A&M’s compliance department sticking its nose into Manziel family business, this one — if true — would show that TAMU officials apparently had good reason to be worried.

Manziel knows this particular rule.  Hell, after Tattoogate at Ohio State, every college athlete in the country should be fully aware of the fact that you can’t trade your autograph or jerseys for tattoos, cash, beads or pelts.  Manziel — allegedly — cut a deal to sell autographed memorabilia anyway.

The NCAA has the authority to check the quarterback’s bank account to see if $10,000+ were deposited sometime after January.  If the Heisman-winner did get paid, he put his career and the Aggies’ football season in jeopardy for money he and his family didn’t even need in the first place.  They have oil money.  Johnny Football has used it to jet across the continent this offseason.  He’s used it to buy high-dollar seats at sporting events.  We all saw him at those games.  We all read his complaints when he was asked how he got the tickets.  His quote from April: “They keep sending me questionnaires asking me who’s funding the trip?  Who’s doing this?  Everytime I respond back, ‘ME, ME and ME,’ in capital letters.”

Turns out Manziel’s “me, me, me” attitude might just come back to burn him and his team.

The fact that Manziel’s family has cash makes this latest episode even more baffling, foolish and frustrating than the silly stuff he’s made news for these past few months.  Baffling, foolish and frustrating… but not surprising.  Outside of Aggie Nation, who didn’t see more issues on the horizon for Manziel?  The young man apparently gets very little guidance from his parents.  According to those parents, he doesn’t get much leadership or aid from his school, either.

Manziel has been a front-page story all offseason.  Those type athletes rarely turn into wallflowers overnight.  For that reason, we have suspected and stated that we wouldn’t trust Manziel to make it through the season without causing another distraction.  Well, we were wrong.  Manziel didn’t make it to the season without finding himself in the middle of a new controversy.

So much for all those folks who’ve been saying that A&M’s quarterback will account for 500 yards in the Aggies’ opener and then all his summer issues will be forgotten.  Now there’s a legitimate concern that Manziel won’t even be on the field for Texas A&M’s opener.

Last week a Sports Illustrated feature on Manziel quoted the QB as saying: “You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon.  What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field.”

A loose cannon?  That he is.  Unfortunately he’s never learned that NFL general managers aren’t looking for loose cannons off the field.  For a guy who is undersized and has but one year of college football under his belt, his loose cannon act could already be costing him high-pick NFL money.  That’s a heckuva lot more money than five-figures, by the way.

Kellen Moore did nothing but win football games at Boise State.  Unfortunately his height prevented him from being drafted.  Tennessee’s Tyler Bray had the stature and the arm strenght of a first-rounder.  Unfortunately, his off-field shenanigans kept him from being selected.  Combine Moore’s size with Bray’s immaturity and you have Manziel.

Hell, even Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett — a kid who had the right size and a good on-field resume — did a free-fall into the third round of the draft based solely on rumored activities.  Throw the Aaron Hernandez affair into the mix and you can be sure NFL franchises will be even more careful with their draft picks next April.  That’s all bad news for Johnny Football.

Lacking proper guidance, Manziel once again appears to be heading down the Todd Marinovich turnpike straight toward Ryan Leaf-ville.  The 20-year-old has brought a good many issues — including this one if it’s true — on himself.  But the kid has become an overnight star without anyone helping him navigate the transition from redshirt freshman to “Mr. 400,000 Twitter followers.”  That’s not an easy transition to make with help, much less without it.

Manziel is too good a player and too likeable a young man — by most accounts — to throw so much away.  Here’s hoping he hasn’t cost himself eligibility with his latest poor decision.  Texas A&M needs him.  College football needs him.  And he needs college football.

Between the white lines appears to be the only area where Manziel’s loose cannon approach doesn’t come back to bite him.

 


9 comments
DaveinExile
DaveinExile

I wonder if the family really does have money. If I had even modest means and a son hit the national spotlight like JM, I would attach a lawyer and a PR expert to him 24/7. Instead, we have a childhood friend of the same age (read: enabler) acting as the paid "set boundaries" guy. Brilliant.


I know plenty of people with lots of stuff and a trust fund - which simply acts as collateral to lines of credit bursting at the seams. In other words, the bank owns their trust fund, just like the bank owns your home if you have a mortgage on it. I think the Manziels might have a lot of assets but no cash flow - which would explain exactly why a guy with a "loaded" family would exchange his autograph for five figures.

 I can't stand NCAA rules, but I also understand the insanity these rules attempt to keep in check. JM knew the rules. Every NCAA athlete does. "Stupid" rule doesn't mean "don't have to follow" rule. Especially this one.

 Sad to see how fast sudden fame blew this kid out of the water. Hopefully he swallows his pride, admits his mistakes, and settles down with no harm done. But some kids, especially this age, double down. It will be interesting to see what direction JM goes from here.


yerboyfloyd
yerboyfloyd

The multiples of poor judgement JM has shown this off-season has caused his precious (in his eyes) NFL Draft stock to fall like a rock.   What a train wreck.

VolTN
VolTN

Wouldn't be surprising considering the info that was in the cover stories last week.  The guy absolutely hates that Texas A&M makes any money from him (see the Heisman Trophy fundraising) and he absolutely acts like a child when he is asked for his autograph from people who knew him before he was famous (see high school teacher).  I could totally see him just not caring enough about TAM or college football to get a quick payday through autograph sessions.  Whether he thought he could get away with it or not I think is not really on his mind.  I think he truly just doesn't care. 

Bootheel
Bootheel

If true then he is dumber than I imagined.  I suspect his manager/buddy had some sort of ingenious plan to pull this off and not get caught that allowed him to share in the largess.  If Manziel did profit, and that is a big IF, it will hurt him and his team tremendously, and he will have finally done something that deserves the ink it will receive.  Even if the scheme works for some loophole reason, it will still damage TAM by its distraction.  Overall it will bring into focus, again, this rule, how it relates to the O'Bannon litigation, and the fact that high profile players are not allowed to profit while the schools continue to profit in a very big way.  But that is still the way it is.  "Johnny Football" is quite possibly "Johnny Autograph" now. 

WillieT
WillieT

I am a Crimson Tide fan through & through. It is my most sincere hope that Jphnny Manziel did not break the NCAA rules. He is an exciting and dynamic player who has the ability to take over a game. A joy to watch (though I cringed when he made plays outta nothin' against Bama last year), should he loose eligibility or have to sit through a suspension, there would be something amiss with both A&M and all of college football in 2013. 


Of course,  I also want to see Bama beat the crap outta him and the Aggies - just wouldn't be the same if he's not the QB.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

What if his personal manager got the pay day, and no money went to JM directly? Would the NCAA be able to get hold of his "manager's" bank account information? Maybe JM was tired of asking his parents for money. Maybe he placed a high dollar bet on something and lost, and this was his "payment". Who knows in his world. While this is odd, I can believe it. With the apparent bad blood between the family and school, what if it was done on purpose? The family T'd off at the school for being all up in their butter all the time and milking their son for profit, set this up to get the school in trouble while their little JFF skates off to millions in the NFL? Anything is possible. I have known kids out of these oil families, many of them are not right between the ears and have no issues throwing anyone under the bus.

jansing87
jansing87

Unless Manziel was high on something, difficult to believe such a dumb mistake was made.

MoKelly1
MoKelly1

This is just too bizarre to believe. Even my little sister knows a college athlete can't sell his autograph ... much less hundreds and hundreds of them. She also knows there are no secrets in the world and any violation will be caught -- especially if you are the most high profile college player in the universe. He isn't that stupid. No one is that stupid. Something is very amiss.

j_scott_o
j_scott_o

I have been a staunch defender of Manziel.  Not for his antics per se, because, I really do wish he'd stay off Twitter.  But, all the bashing he has been receiving for essentially being a college student.  Whether it be jealousy, or whatever.  I believe everything has been overblown from his Twitter statements to his pictures to the Manning Camp...to pretty much everything.  I don't think it will/would have any affect on the upcoming season.  And, now there is some chest-thumping by some in the media and a lot of those that don't like Manziel saying, "see, told ya so".

Now that I have that out of the way, IF this is true, and this is a big IF, then, I do NOT want Manziel to play one down for A&M this year.  All that other stuff was I really could care less about.  But, this is something much different.  This is a real scandal...if true.  Do I think this is a stupid rule?  Really, it doesn't matter.  It is a rule.  And, if Manziel got paid for autographs.  He should not play a down for A&M.  And, should be out of the program all together.

Now...with all of THAT said, this is all a big "if".  And, it will be very difficult for the NCAA to prove.  So, if Manziel ends up playing the entire season, I'll be here saying, "told ya so".  And, if he misses any games, I'll be here saying, "I can't believe he was such a buffoon to take payment for autographs".

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