Johnny Manziel’s tumultuous off-season continues, and this time he could be in real trouble. An NCAA investigation will take place after a report surfaced stating that Johnny Manziel accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for autographs in January.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines broke the story after two sources reported that Johnny Football signed hundreds of autographs while in Miami for the BCS National Championship game. According to their sources a flat fee that was somewhere in the five figure range was given to the only freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Neither source actually witnessed an exchange of money, however they both observed the autographs being signed.
Three sources told Outside the Lines that autograph broker Drew Tieman approached Manziel on January 6 after the Texas A&M quarterback landed in Fort Lauderdale. They state that Manziel went to Tieman’s apartment and signed hundreds of autographs, and later signed hundreds more at an event for the championship game.
No stranger to controversy during his short time as a member of the Aggies, Johnny Football has found himself in the national spotlight for the wrong reasons several times over the past few months. Stories have surfaced ranging from his party habits to drug use, however he has not been caught in violation of any NCAA rules as of yet.
That could all change should the NCAA investigation prove the autograph allegations to be factual, Johnny Manziel could find himself in serious trouble. The official rule being questioned by the investigation is NCAA rule 126.96.36.199 — accepting money for promoting or advertising the commercial sale of a product or service. Should the Heisman winning sophomore be found guilty of violating this rule he could become ineligible to take the field.
Texas A&M has remained quiet on the matter, stating only that “it is Texas A&M’s longstanding practice not to respond to such questions concerning specific student-athletes,” through Jason Cook, the team’s senior associate athletics director for external affairs.
Manziel was not reached for comment on the news of the NCAA investigation, however on March 6 he stated that “Johnny has indicated on numerous occasions and, once again earlier today, that he has never (and to his knowledge, his parents, other relatives and friends have ever) been compensated through cash or other benefits or promises of deferred compensation for providing his autograph,” according to Texas A&M’s compliance director when asked about memorabilia for sale that surfaced on the internet.
To this point Johnny Manziel has mismanaged his celebrity status to the point where he has fallen from the rank of role model. He has become an athlete that is as much a distraction off the field as he is talented on it. Although he is arguably the best player in college football today, one has to wonder what his NFL future will be should he continue to be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Texas A&M has to hope that Johnny Manziel is able to remain eligible despite the NCAA investigation against him. A top ten team entering the season, they need their star quarterback to continue to take the field and lead them to victory if they want to be successful this season.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express