Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is making headlines again—for all the wrong reasons. The NCAA is investigating last year’s Heisman Trophy winner for allegedly selling signed memorabilia to autograph brokers. Because college football is an amateur competition, the rules prohibit players from accepting any financial reward from the sales of related products or services.
On Thursday, the Manziel family hired attorney Jim Darnell, who believes the 20-year-old redshirt sophomore star will be allowed to play in A&M’s season opener on Aug. 31. “I can’t say much other than we’re working through the process,” Darnell said. “He’s cooperating with the investigation.”
After finishing one of the most impressive freshmen seasons in NCAA football history, “Johnny Football” has lived through a tumultuous offseason, much of which has come under public scrutiny. Among other things, Manziel gambled in casinos, attended parties, sent out profanity-laced tweets, slept through Manning Passing Academy meetings, and pled guilty to a misdemeanor resulting from a 2012 bar fight. Last month, Manziel’s parents told ESPN they are worried about how their son is handling his newfound fame.
The NCAA promotes the idea that the young men and women competing in college sports are “students first, athletes second.” While many student-athletes receive scholarships that cover tuition and other expenses, the NCAA bans salaries, prize money, or any association with a professional team.
Manziel talked to reporters last month regarding his offseason and the attention he has garnered: “I would say at times it’s blown a little out of proportion. At the end of the day, I hope people still see that I’m a 20-year-old in college. … I’m continuing to learn as the days and the weeks go on. I’ve made mistakes, obviously. I’m trying to learn from them and not make the same one twice.”
If proven to be true, his latest mistakes could cost him his playing eligibility at Texas A&M.