I don’t know where I jumped off the Johnny Football bandwagon, but I think it was somewhere between his parents trademarking his nickname and that national column that compared him to Oprah.
The ride was fun while it lasted, though. Before Johnny Manziel arrived in Aggieland, with ominous moving-to-the-SEC drums rumbling, the official Texas A&M team car may as well have been a hearse. Now, it seems, it’s a black Mercedes-Benz, paid for by his daddy, with new rims.
Ah, the rims. If you believe the latest story, Manziel needed money for the rims. So he allegedly broke one of the easiest NCAA rules to remember:
Thou shalt not sell your stuff.
And autographs are part of your stuff. Student-athletes can’t sell autographs. Or game tickets. Or bowl game jerseys.
They can’t do a lot of things, not because the NCAA doesn’t want them to have rims money, but because schools with big-money boosters would find a way to skirt the system.
I get that. And if you don’t, why do you even watch college football on Saturdays? The best football players in the country shouldn’t all be going to the schools with the shadiest boosters. There are rules in place that are designed to stymie that. And for the most part, the rules work.
No, I’m not naïve enough to think that college football programs aren’t still buying a player or two or three. I just think there are enough rules and compliance departments and iPhone photos out there to have cluttered the cheating superhighways to the point of more or less semi-leveling the blue-chip field.