On Sunday, the NCAA announced they are pursuing an investigation into Johnny Manziel who allegedly profited from autographs. This news sent shockwaves throughout the college football landscape, and put fear into the Texas A&M faithful and all of Aggies nation. Since winning the Heisman trophy in December, Manziel has been seen in countless situations that critics have chastised the young quarterback for. Manziel has been living a lavish lifestyle and been seen with superstars LeBron James and rapper Drake among others. Even though, Manziel is under the legal drinking age, Manziel has also been seen on many occasions drinking alcohol and partying. While some people attribute his behavior to naivety, other people have assassinated his character and demeaned his ability to handle the pressure. Although Manziel has been scrutinized before, the recent allegations of profiting from autographs could lead to actual repercussions. Manziel is accused of breaking NCAA law 18.104.22.168, which is accepting money for promoting or advertising, the commercial sale of a product. If the accusations are found true, Manziel would not only be ineligible for an undetermined amount of time, he would also become a member of the Heisman Hijinks.
The autograph scandal centers around a well-known autograph broker on ebay, Johnny Manziel, and Manziel’s friend and personal assistant Nate Fitch. The broker contests that he did not compensate Manziel for signing 250 items around the time of his heroic game at Alabama last season. Sources say that Manziel signed hundreds of photographs and footballs for autograph broker Drew Tieman. These alleged signings occurred while Manziel was attending the BCS Championship game in South Florida, and reportedly received a five figure salary for the autograph sessions.
In 2010, The NCAA dealt with a similar situation involving Ohio State University and their star quarterback Terrelle Pryor in addition to five other players. This situation involved trading signed sports memorabilia including conference championship rings for tattoos. This resulted in the six players being deemed ineligible and they were suspended for 5 games the following season. Were these players unruly? Were they engaged in troublesome fun? yes; they were all card carrying hijinks members mischievously engaging in the most embarrassing across the line behavior. These scandals also ultimately lead to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel’s resignation.
These allegations have become the talk of college football because of Manziel’s Heisman status, and the high expectations for Texas A&M football this year. Texas A&M have aspirations of winning the daunted SEC and are also projected to contend for the National Championship. When asked about the situation, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said “”our university is doing its due diligence to find out the facts.” Sumlin also refused to answer speculation questions on the season in regards to Manziel starting the season opener. If the sophomore sensation is deemed ineligible for any games, Texas A&M will have to go with an unproven quarterback who will be under extreme pressure. This whole scandal could put a damper on title hopes especially with a monumental matchup looming week 3 against Alabama, the defending champions. While Texas A&M’s future is in jeopardy, the electrifying Johnny football’s future is also held in the balance. If Manziel is ruled ineligible for any length of time, his chances of winning back-to-back Heisman’s will be miniscule. Manziel’s pro ability is already doubted by many organizations for various reasons from his size and intangibles to his character and demeanor. Manziel came out of nowhere to wow fans while also becoming the face of college football. Manziel might end up falling flat on his face, but he is more likely to punch back at his critics with his play and assert his dominance in the face of adversity.
These allegations also have a more broad range appeal with the questions of college athletes and payment. For many years, many college athletes think they should be compensated in some way because of how much money they make for their respective universities. The athletes believe they should be recognized when their image or likeness is used, which has caused lawsuits and many discussions on “payment for play” scenarios. The most recent development in such lawsuits has forced the NCAA to remove their branding in the association of EA Sports. The video-game juggernaut would use the player’s stats, jersey numbers, and facial recognition to help market the game to college football fans. When former college football players expressed unhappiness with their likeness, they decided to go after EA Sports. The courts recently ruled in favor of the players, saying that they should be compensated for their likeness being used in the game. This could just be the start of a long process that will eventually lead to college athletes getting paid for their likeness and image involving branding, autographs, and eventually salaries. And this could be end of the hijinks college athlete, as these young players become big income earners long before they complete their college education.
Written By: Gregory Douglas