The NCAA investigation into Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has taken an interesting turn. Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has used the investigation as a vehicle for him to voice his displeasure with the NCAA and the inconsistencies in their punishment of rule-violating athletes, as well as taking issue with the prevention of student-athletes making money on their likeness.
Although it may seem strange on the surface that an All-Pro wide receiver is wasting his time and energy speaking out against an NCAA investigation, the Manziel investigation has to strike a cord with Dez Bryant. He has been in the situation Johnny Football finds himself in before.
Bryant was suspended for the final ten games of his collegiate career as a result of an NCAA investigation against him while he was at Oklahoma State. The investigators found that Dez Bryant had lied about having lunch with former NFL All-Star Deion Sanders.
The impact of that suspension still linger with Bryant, who was supposed to contend for the Heisman Trophy in 2009, to this day. “All I did was lie about going over to somebody’s house and I got my season taken away from me. Still to this day, I think about it. It bothers me. I can’t get it back. No matter how much money I make in this league … that really meant something to me.
Looking at the (latest) Johnny Manziel scandal, the Dallas Cowboys receiver realized that there are many inconsistencies in the way that the NCAA dishes out punishments for its athletes. He lost his season for going over to someone’s house, and feels that it is unfair.
He also recalled the suspension of former Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor. The star passer was found to have been receiving improper benefits, yet he was still allowed to play in his team’s bowl game that year and only faced a five game suspension the next season. Pryor never served that suspension, and instead opted to declare for the NFL supplemental draft instead.
And now he looks at the Manziel investigation and feels that it would only be fair if Johnny Football were suspended if he is found to have accepted money in exchange for autographs, Bryant adds that he his belief is not rooted in a dislike for the Aggies star.
“Hell, yeah, I’ll be mad. I’ll be mad,” Bryant said regarding how he would feel if Manziel is not suspended. “But I don’t want him to get suspended. I would be mad more at the NCAA for how they do things.”
“I don’t think my situation was as [bad] as his,” Bryant said. “Johnny Manziel is a great football player. I really hope him the best. I hope he doesn’t get suspended. I pray that he don’t get suspended, because I love watching him. But as far as the NCAA, I just think they do a lot of stuff unfair.”
His displeasure with the NCAA is not limited to their decision as to whether or not the league decides to suspend Manziel. Dez Bryant finds hypocrisy with more than just the way the league varies its punishments.
He feels that student-athletes should be allowed to make money off of their likeness, in the same way the NCAA does. Speaking to ESPN Dallas, Bryant explained:
“I feel like players in the NCAA should [be allowed to make money on endorsements and autograph signings],” Bryant said, ESPN Dallas. “Those fans are coming to watch them and support them. Whenever you’re in college, it’s different. You don’t get paid like the NFL gets paid. I think it would be OK to have a little money in your pocket. It’s hard in college. You’ve got to get a job if you can. You’ve got to practice. It’s just hard. Sometimes the training table is not good enough.
[Manziel] should be able to sign as many autographs and make as much money as he wants, because it’s his name. He’s the one who created it. He should be able to do whatever he feels, as long as it’s legal, and I don’t think anything is illegal about signing your name on a picture of yourself, making money off yourself.
The NCAA makes money off of it when they sell those No. 2 shirts, so why can’t he make a little bit of money off it?”
The question of whether or not student-athletes should be paid has come to the forefront several times lately, and the debate seemingly continues to heat up. Dez Bryant has stated his position on the issue, using Johnny Manziel as an example to point out what he believes to be hypocrisies in the way the NCAA handles its business. It does not appear that the investigation into Johnny Manziel or the debate over compensating student-athletes are coming to an end any time soon. Both stories are sure to fill up a major portion of NCAA football discussions throughout the fast approaching season.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express