Keep Calm & Johnny Football

Peter Cavanaugh

Johnny Football

Simply because the NCAA has a longstanding tradition of paying its labor far below market value and then indiscriminately penalizing them when one of them trips up, we feel the need to jump up and finger-wag and bark when a new story emerges.

The most recent case, though this is a day or two old, so we are safe to assume there is an even more recent case, is that of Johnny Manziel – “Johnny Football” as he's been (not)branded. For those under the proverbial rock, or who simply have more ethically sound things to do with their time than watch a bunch of young talented youths pummel each other into early onset dementia in an effort to raise billions of dollars for anyone but themselves, Manziel was investigated for supposedly receiving payment for autographs. The “auto” in autograph should be enough to tell you that he was signing his name. Which of course, for his duration at Texas A&M is not actually his.

Manziel, who won the Heisman last year, has made a name for himself recently for being a completely average college kid. That is: partied too hard, tweeted cryptic drama, and got kicked out of a frat party. Why these items are news is beyond me. They're not, sure, but then we run the risk of derailing this news brief and talking about why it's a load of fertilizer that someone could say, “Well, uh, you see, uh, he's the quarterback for Texas A&M, uh, he's representing A&M and should therefore understand he's in the public eye and should, uh, conduct himself…” Conduct himself how? Like a 20 year old that is just trying get his because that's all any 20 year old in college is doing, not to mention the fact that he's playing football and (we repeat because the system is like the Deathstar and nearly impenetrable) generating sums of money we can only dream about and in return getting an education to which you can't really put a price on, right? Except that he's playing, again, football and by the time he's forty he'll probably have to sleep sitting up and that education will have seeped out of his ears like sap from a tree and he'll be left on the porch muttering indecipherable old war stories to no one in particular.

But the point?

The NCAA hath spoken and it shall be: Johnny Football is to remain seated for the first half of the first game of the season. The details are as such: he was definitely signing memorabilia, that memorabilia was definitely being sold, but the NCAA could not find any trail of money to Manziel, nor prove Manziel knew the stacks of autographs were going to be sold.

So citing NCAA Bylaw 12.5.2.1 and 12.5.2.2, Texas A&M imposed a single half-game suspension and the NCAA agreed.

Now we have to simultaneously congratulate Johnny Football for getting by the man like a boss, and yell about inconsistent punishments. Whether or not you agree with the bylaw (and lord is there plenty of wiggle room since part A of the first bylaw states an athlete can lose eligibility if the individual: “…permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind”. Isn't that all college sports are? Big, smiling shills for ESPN, CBS, Tostitos, Goodyear, Chick-fil-A? Just so long as only the NCAA and colleges get the money, not the wily and inebriated help).

Dez Bryant had spoken earlier of this confliction, as he has some experience with the NCAA. Most of his final collegiate season was spent on the bench thanks to an infraction. The heinous act? He had dinner with Deion Sanders. Because he was led to believe that wasn't allowed, he lied and said he didn't. Which is probably what most 19 and 20 year olds do under pressure from authority. Turns out the dinner wasn't against any laws nor bylaws, but since Bryant lied, he was forced to sit out the final ten games of his collegiate career.

In summary? I don't know, just fucking bomb it. The whole thing. When we get apologies like this from NCAA President Mark Emmert, “I can't speak to why we entered into that enterprise, but it's not something that's appropriate for us, and we're going to exit,” in reference to capitalizing on individual players, what else is there to do?

College football officially kicks off tomorrow. Go Team!

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