Johnny Football’s ability to play the game for which he’s nicknamed may have hinged on the outcome of a lengthy Sunday sit-down with the NCAA.
According to Travis Haney of ESPN, NCAA investigators devoted a “large chunk” of Sunday meeting with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel regarding allegations that he signed autographs for money.
The session reportedly lasted nearly six hours.
(Yes, we know it’s not a pro football issue. But since Manziel undoubtedly will be in the next pro football draft, his ability to play college football this year could be slightly relevant to his pro football draft stock.)
ESPN previously has reported that Manziel accepted payment for signing more than 4,000 autographs. Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp, who has said players should be able to get paid for signing autographs, has insisted without specifics that Manziel didn’t do it.
It may not matter, if the NCAA opts to pursue Manziel under bylaw 126.96.36.199, which compels student-athletes to take steps to prevent the sale of items bearing their names or likenesses.
While on its face the rule creates a potentially unreasonable burden for a kid who may not have the resources or the ability to send out cease-and-desist letters or file lawsuits, Manziel knew or should have known when repeatedly signing his name for one person that the one person for whom Manziel was signing simply didn’t want to have the world’s biggest personal collection of Johnny Football memorabilia.
And so while 188.8.131.52 is more than a little vague and broad when applied generally, it could be the thing that allows the NCAA to specifically nail Manziel.
And by nailing Manziel, we mean slapping him on the wrist or at worst suspending him for two games so he’ll be back for the Alabama game on September 14.