This is not how Johnny Manziel wanted to start the 2013 football season. The star Texas A&M sophomore quarterback is under a fresh cloud of scrutiny for allegedly taking payment for autographs.
Sources told ESPN the Heisman Trophy winner accepted "a five-figure flat fee" in January to sign hundreds of footballs, photos and other items. Manziel was reportedly in Miami for the BCS National Championship when the improper autograph fest occurred.
If the allegations are true, Manziel would be in violation of NCAA bylaws that prevent athletes from accepting money for their services related to sports or advertising, whether they are on the field or off. The NCAA is reportedly investigating the incident. No matter how unfair the rules seem (A&M regularly profits off Manziel's signature), you can't break them and expect not to be punished.
In the face of countless controversies, Manziel has maintained that none of his off-field antics would impact his on-field performance.
Manziel's family of means bristled at the idea of others getting rich on the back of Johnny Football, and that's why their trademark lawsuit was so genius. It managed to get Manziel paid without violating the rules on the books, however asinine.
Despite blabbing family secrets to ESPN just a couple of weeks ago, Manziel and his family aren't talking about the autograph violations. Johnny Football reported for preseason training in College Station on Sunday, August 4 — the same day the allegations came to light. Before the story broke, Manziel was scheduled to address the media on Monday, August 5. He has since been removed from the player availability list.
With Manziel's high profile, many are wondering if the NCAA would look to make an example out of its brash young star with a lengthy suspension. In 2011, Ohio State University players were suspended five games for violating the same NCAA bylaw of which Manziel stands accused. The Buckeyes traded sports memorabilia for tattoos and other in-kind gifts. It would appear Manziel prefers cash.
In the face of countless controversies — and faux controversies — Manziel has maintained that none of his off-field antics would impact his on-field performance. But a violation of NCAA rules would do exactly that. The highly anticipated Texas A&M vs. Alabama game on September 14 has already been taken off the board in the Las Vegas Hotel sports books, proving that Manziel is now too risky a bet even for professional gamblers.
Although there's no question that Manziel has brought millions of dollars in donations, ticket sales and other Aggie products, the goodwill between the star player and his university appears to be running thin these days.
Manziel's father, Paul, has made several public disparaging remarks about Texas A&M, and Manziel has maligned College Station on Twitter. School officials reported that Manziel would be at practice Monday, but maybe a timeout wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the 20-year-old phenom who has shown himself incapable of self control.