Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel makes the news a lot. Sometimes it’s for football related things, like wining the Heisman Trophy in 2012. Other times, it’s for fights in bars or his dad saying in an interview that his son has a “gambling problem.”
The recent story I heard today was rather interesting. He is being investigated by the NCAA for supposedly being paid five figures to sign autographs.
Now when I heard this, it piqued my interest. As somebody that collects autographs, yes. But also because the NCAA has a lot of weird rules about athletes and how they can and can’t make money.
Actor/comedian/radio host Jay Mohr said it best on his show when he talked about buying a smoothie, and the woman telling him she threw in some vitamin thing without charging him extra. Mohr said something along the lines of “If I played a college sport, I’d have to report that or risk getting in trouble. Why?! If an athlete is at a restaurant and they guy said ‘The pizza is on me. I’m a big football fan,’ why is that the athletes fault?”
I knew a woman who played basketball at Stanford. She was friends with a swimmer named Janet, who was dating Broncos quarterback John Elway (who played at Stanford at the time). She said he’d always pay for their dinners and when they asked him how he had money, he said “I get dressed after football games and there are $100 bills in all my pockets. I just don’t say anything about it.”
So obviously, these teams find ways to get money to the great players.
I remember in the early 90s, while working in radio, former Rams Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk was tearing up the field at San Diego State University. Some company made shirts that said “Faulk U.” They immediately got pulled from the shelves. Not because they were deemed offensive, but the company wasn’t authorized to use Faulk’s name. Only the NCAA could. Not only that, even Faulk himself wouldn’t have been allowed to. Now think about the craziness of that logic. A player could be so great at a sport on the college level, and they can’t sell shirts with their name or face on them. Yet the NCAA can sell your jersey and make a fortune.
When quarterback Steve McNair was in college, we had a newscaster in San Diego that was given a great idea by one of his interns. He said “A lot of people call him ‘Air McNair’. Well, why don’t you get a patent on that phrase, so when he makes the NFL, you can sell shirts with that name or sell the rights for a lot more.”
They spent $250 to secure those rights, and McNair made it into the NFL as a high draft pick. Well, the legal system favored McNair in that situation. They basically said that if a player can’t make money off their name, it’s not fair for others to do something like this. He was able to buy his own nickname back.
You can go on eBay, and see lots of items with Johnny Manziel for sale. Some are autographed photos, footballs, and helmets. Yet, he can’t sell them himself?
Check out the Texas A&M website. His #2 jersey costs $65 bucks. None of that goes to him. You can also get a variety of Heisman shirts, which they wouldn’t be selling, if he wasn’t voted the best college football player.
ESPN reported this in an “Outside the Lines” segment that aired over the weekend.
The autograph signing apparently took place in January. Two sources said he agreed to the deal during a trip to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami. The sources said they never actually saw an exchange of money, though.
The 20-year-old QB was supposed to be at the start of camp on Sunday, but if this is deemed a violation (and it probably will be), that could ruin his eligibility status. And that might mean he’ll be available for the next NFL draft, where he’ll make millions, and can be paid to do autograph signings (a practice I’ve always had problems with for a few reasons).
Then all the reporters that are writing about this and knocking him for doing it – will now knock him as being yet another college athlete that didn’t finish school and get his degree.