College Football – Advice to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel – Lie Your Ass Off

by Kent Sterling

Not a fan of scarves, but I like a guy who circumvents bad rules, and even with a Heisman that might be his greatest legacy.

Not a fan of scarves, but I like a guy who circumvents bad rules, and even with a Heisman that might be his greatest legacy.

There is nothing morally wrong with lying to avoid the consequence of breaking a bad rule.  That may be shaky ground, but Johnny Manziel answering questions of the NCAA at this point is a lot like Colonel Hogan facing questions from Commandant Klink on “Hogan’s Heroes.”  You do what you have to.

Click here to follow Kent on Twitter

Manziel is being hounded by the NCAA for taking cash for signing memorabilia – a violation of a bizarre rule that has gone unquestioned for a long time – as though it’s okay to restrict athletes from making any money at all because of the fame they realize as collegiate athletes.  Only the schools and NCAA can profit from that fame?

It’s a dynamic that is allowed to exist nowhere else in our society, and Manziel, through his reported indifference to the rule is causing it to come under scrutiny unlike any since it was enacted.

NCAA investigators were reportedly in College Station for six hours yesterday, spending a chunk of that that talking face-to-face with Manziel.

I doubt Johnny Football needs my advice, but if he took cash for signing, he should treat the truth with indifference.  Lying is a weak and loathsome act.  Without the truth, we all live in deceit, but accepting a penalty for breaking a bad rule clenses no one’s soul despite the writings of Henry David Thoreau.

And let’s face what should be a very strong belief – that there is no way Manziel wasn’t paid.  Anyone who has spent the hours necessary to sign 4,400 items knows it’s mind numbing and grueling.

Every year at Emmis Communications, I signed between 1,200-1,500 letters to organizations and schools asking them to use WIBC Radio as its conduit for communicating snow closing information to their employees and students.  I could get my pace to 10 per minute, but no faster.  To sign the 4,400 times ESPN is reporting would take Manziel over seven hours.  There is no way a sharp kid like Manziel would put himself through that misery without being paid.

That the NCAA legislates to the idiocy of of student-athletesn not being paid to the value of a brand is ludicrous, and is not deserving of the respect truth connotes.  Lying to those who enforce rules that equate to life’s speed traps is not just acceptable; it’s a moral imperative.

That Peyton Manning can drag a Sharpie over photos or leather and be paid six figures, and Manziel can’t is bureaucratic nonsense.  The elimination of the rule would cause a problem with boosters using the ability to pay a fee to an athlete for licensing as a de facto payment to a recruit of current player, but that is a smaller problem than the one the rule creates – restricting the ability a citizen to be paid to his value – a wonderfully American concept.  That the rule allows schools to reap all the rewards of its athletes’ fame makes it and those who endorse it corrupt.

There is no chance that Manziel viewed his supposed work in signing footballs and other swag as some Quixotic quest to reform the NCAA away from its arcane rules of amateurism, but his desire to be paid has put him in that very position.

Student-athletes deserve to profit from the the licensing of their brand, and that’s why the NCAA is sweating bullets over the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit that will evaluate whether the NCAA – or its member schools – have the right to require 18 year-olds to sign away the rights of their own image for eternity throughout the universe.

Manziel allegedly saw cash and was handed a pen.  He did what every other human being in America would do.  Sign his name, and pocket the bucks.  But he shouldn’t tell anyone, wink, or betray the fruits of his labor.  His family is wealthy beyond the dreams of all but a few, so a little bit of cash isn’t a red flag.  The NCAA can’t compel anyone to tell the truth, or even talk.

Everyone keeps his mouth shut, the problem goes away, and Manziel enjoys one more tour around the SEC.  Rules that can’t be enforced are useless, and the NCAA is learning that very quickly.

9 thoughts on “College Football – Advice to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel – Lie Your Ass Off

  1. Bert Beiswanger

    Kent, he should just say his Dad solicited the funds without him knowing about it. The NCAA basically rewrote its own rulebook on the fly during the Cam Newton case, when they said well, since he didn’t know about it….Compared to a father pimping his son around the South for $150k like Newton’s Dad did, this case seems petty, doesn’t it?

  2. r

    You’re an idiot. No way he got paid? first of all, only you media are claiming thru anonymous sources that there is 4400 items. and what’s worse is that no one of you media hounds are pushing on whether clowney, miller, or bridgewater broke the same rules. they too have over a 1,000 autographed items on ebay. but no you people are retarded

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I wrote there is no way he wasn’t paid. I hope they all sold their autographs. In fact, I would encourage boosters from every major conference program to pay players for their autographs. Let’s ratchet this up to a choke point where the NCAA’s rules can’t be enforced because of the abject tonnage of indifference to their idiocy.

  3. Pauly Balst

    How about National Autograph Day as a sign of civil disobedience? Alumni pay players in cash on video that is aggrgated and posted at once to YouTube.

    You get enough stars from the best programs and what is the NCAA going to do? Investigate and suspend everyone? Miss the payday from the networks? No way.

    Not my idea, credit Outkick the Coverage.

  4. bob kravitz

    I’ve long believed in Olympic model that lets athletes enrich themselves on their fame, but as an NCAA friend pointed it, this will give rise to big-dollar boosters standing in line to give kids ridiculous sums of money to sign a few autographs. Boosters can buy the top recruits with promises of big dollars in return for minimal work. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but I think my NCAA friend has a fair thought.

    1. Bert Beiswanger

      I agree, Bob. While it seems easy to just say a kid should be able to earn money in this way (and it does seem pretty damn logical), college sports would just become slimier and more pathetic than it already is. People argue this on both sides all day and, to me, it’s just not that easy. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get two kids through college at the same time without them/us owing $75k each upon graduation. I just don’t have much sympathy for the college athlete plight.

      1. kentsterling Post author

        Try to enforce a prohibition on earning for any other adult in any other walk of life, and see how quickly you wind up in court.

        You hit upon an interesting point. You are trying to figure out how to put kids through college like a lot of other parents do. Those parents are the people benefitting from the scholarships, not the kids, who are working 40+ hours per week as student athletes. Restricting a person’s ability to profit from their own image while schools who issue the pass through expense of a scholarship is wrong no matter how you slice it.

        This is a problem that might affect 2% of the scholarship athletes. Allowing them to cut deals with autograph brokers will cause a problem much smaller than those already here because of the current policy.

        1. Ryan

          I say let’s take it outside of the realm of sports. What if a extremely talented musician decided you know what I am going to pass up on the record deals and I am going to accept a scholarship to play in the orchestra at some university. This kid goes on massive tours and fills arenas all over the country with people with the sole purpose of hearing him play. Can he not sell the songs he writes? Same with an artist. His/her paintings are up in galleries all over the world. He can’t sell paintings while at school? It would be absolutely ridiculous that any of these people are not allowed to profit from their talents. Explain the difference with football players.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *