John Pennington reminds us once more that it rarely pays to put all your cards on the table with Mark Emmert’s NCAA:
Then there was the autograph caper of Johnny Manziel. As summer wound down, a number of sources claimed that the Texas A&M quarterback had received thousands of dollars in exchange for his autograph on merchandise that could be re-sold for greater profit. Anyone with a brain knows that Johnny Football wouldn’t volunteer hours of his time to make someone else a boatload of money… all out of the goodness of his heart. Who of us would?
But the NCAA wanted no part in opening up what could have become a skyscraper-sized can of worms. Just as Manziel surely received payment for his time and/or autographs, other college athletes have no doubt done the same (they simply weren’t fingered by autograph brokers after the fact). Knowing this, the NCAA handed Manziel a suspension lasting for all of one half of one game for not — get this — not trying to stop someone from profiting from his image. Uh, right.
The one-time Heisman-winner sat out the first two quarters of the Aggies’ season opener and the story faded from the front page. More importantly, the NCAA had set a precedent. Not having the time or manpower to investigate every claim of a kid signing autographs for cash, Emmert’s group can now simply drop a one-half suspension on any player it believes accepted money for his John Hancock.
Interestingly, it was just three years ago that the same NCAA suspended Georgia receiver AJ Green for four whole games because he had sold a game-worn jersey for 1000 bucks. Like Pearl and Tressel, Green must feel that he simply got popped at the wrong time. Had he broken a rule in the current environment, he might’ve been benched for one half or one game rather than for a full 16 quarters, a third of his final season in Athens.
Don’t forget – nobody anonymously dropped a dime on AJ. He volunteered the information that hung him, presumably upon the advice of somebody in Georgia’s compliance department. Here’s hoping that nameless soul has either been re-educated or is making a living somewhere other than in Athens.