Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

Let us all agree on something right from the start.  If Johnny Manziel autographed items in exchange for money, he violated the NCAA rule that expressly forbids student-athletes from receiving "extra benefits" beyond what they receive as part and parcel of an athletic scholarship.  If it turns out that he did indeed violate the "extra benefit" rule he must be suspended.  And until the NCAA determines this, Texas A&M can be forgiven if it feels the better course of action is to keep him off the field rather than run the risk of forfeiting games for using an ineligible player.

Those are the rules and those are the potential consequences.  Just so we're clear.

And I think it also a fair comment to suggest that the young man's flair for reckless behavior is not confined to the playing field where his breathtaking play lead Texas A&M to last year's Cotton Bowl and for which he received the Heisman Award, the first freshman ever to be so honored.  

And it has been all noise all the time from College Station ever since then.

"Johnny Football" has over 400,000 followers on Twitter upon,which until recently, he could be counted on to pop off with frequency.  As you might imagine, some of those tweets have been problematic, such as the one in which he lamented life in College Station and the one in which he and a buddy are pictured in a casino brandishing wads of cash.  

I bet that latter exercise of his First Amendment rights amused the Aggies' Athletic Director to no end.

He has had a couple of minor run-ins with the law. During one such contact by law enforcement, he was found to have fake ID.  He has showed up at the NBA Finals.  He has thrown out the first pitch for a Rangers game.  His mug has been plastered all over the Internets at parties where it is evident that spirituous refreshment is abundant.  

Much of this is rightfully attributed to his being a kid in the age of the Internet.  Lord knows the trouble I could have gotten into if I had owned an iPhone at 18. And JF is not the only kid to find himself in hot water due to an indiscretion that got into the public. Indeed, I know a girl who got kicked out of boarding school in another state after a picture of her pretending to smoke from a bong in her dorm wound up on Facebook.  Technology frequently trumps teenage sense.

But if JF indeed autographed a bunch of helmets for a memorabilia broker in exchange for $7500.00, as the broker claims, he has created a huge headache for both himself and for Texas A&M.  But it is clearly against the rules.  No two ways about it.

Which again brings up the issue of the hypocrisy of college athletics, particularly in D-I Men's sports. Why is it OK for A&M to auction off stuff JF has autographed to raise money for renovations to Kyle Field but it's not OK for JF to get a piece of the action? What gives the NCAA the right to potentially come down hard on JF when up until fairly recently you could buy a jersey with Manziel's name on it from the NCAA website?

Isn't it the height of hypocrisy for everybody to get to line their pockets but the student-athletes themselves?  

I don't the answer to this.  I do know that I'm an enabler.  Which makes me a hypocrite as well.  I subscribe to my cable provider's premium sports channel.  I go to Razorback games.  I take 3-4 sports magazines.  

I donate to the booster clubs of both Hendrix and Tulane.  And when September 7 rolls around I will be in Conway watching the Hendrix Warriors play football again for the first time since the Sixties.  

And so I really have no room to talk.  

But I will say this, Johnny Manziel is not exactly some kid from the inner city who maybe takes a $50 buck handshake from time to time so he can buy gas and go to the movies with his girlfriend.  Although that is just as illegal as what JF is alleged to have done, I get that.  Especially when everybody is making money off of him but him.  

Johnny Manziel comes from a well-to-do family.  He doesn't need money to buy gas or to go to the movies.  Indeed, alarm bells went off throughout the system when he was seen courtside at that game in the NBA playoffs.  They were cancelled when it was revealed that his daddy paid for the ticket and for airfare.

Having little regard for appearances is not an NCAA violation.  Otherwise, JF would have been in the NCAA hoosegow a long time ago.  

But if these allegations are true, then both the NCAA and Texas A&M need to drop the hammer on the young man.  

Because he didn't need the money.  He did it because he's Johnny Football and because he evidently believes that this makes him bulletproof and invisible.  

Am I hypocrite?  Absolutely I am.  

But I'm a hypocrite with a sense of proportion.  At least I got that going for me.  

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