Another day, another person discussing the Johnny Manziel saga that has taken over college football. This time, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has thrown in his two cents by revealing that he would be upset if the Texas A&M star quarterback isn't suspended for allegedly receiving payment in exchange for autographs, per Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram:
Hell yeah, I’ll be mad. I will be mad. But I don’t want him to get suspended. I will be mad more at the NCAA on how they do things. I just feel like it’s not fair. This is something I have no problem talking about because I feel like somebody needs to say something to him and let it be known how they treat people is not right.
It's clear Bryant views this incident as an NCAA issue and not a Manziel issue. There's no hatred for the reigning Heisman winner—Bryant just wants everybody to be treated fairly. And for good reason. Bryant was suspended for most of the 2009 season after the NCAA discovered he had lied about a relationship he had with NFL legend Deion Sanders. Although lying is never a great idea, the suspension seemed a little unfair at the time.
What Bryant seems to be saying is that, if a suspension was good for Bryant, it's good for Manziel.
Manziel is reported to have participated in six autograph signings for three brokers in three states in less than a month, according to Darren Rovell and Justine Gubar of ESPN. Making a profit off your name in college is a big no-no and comes with hefty consequences. Former Georgia receiver A.J. Green was suspended four games in 2010 after selling a jersey for $1,000 to somebody the NCAA considered an agent.
One jersey for some pocket change equals a quarter of a season's schedule. It's fair to wonder what thousands of autographs for reportedly a much larger sum of money amounts to in the eyes of the NCAA. Maybe the entire season?
Bryant is only asking for fairness from the NCAA. Now a four-year player in the NFL, he won't exactly benefit from having the most electrifying college football player suspended. In fact, he doesn't even necessarily agree that Manziel did anything wrong, per the Star-Telegram report:
He should be able to sign as many autographs and make as much money as he wants, because it’s his name. I feel like he’s the one who created it. He should be able to do whatever he feels as long as it’s legal and I don’t think there’s anything illegal about signing a picture of yourself and making money off himself. Shoot, the NCAA is making money off of it when they’re selling those No. 2 shirts. Why can’t he make a little bit of money off of it?
If the NCAA doesn't suspend Manziel, it will only prove what some already suspect. Some players hold more weight than others, and the NCAA is willing to turn a blind eye under certain circumstances.
Players such as Bryant and Green were given harsh suspensions, but former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was allowed to participate in the SEC Championship Game and BCS National Championship Game during the 2010 season.
Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was suspended five games in 2011, but the NCAA still allowed him to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas at the end of the 2010 season. Due to leaving college early, Pryor never missed any playing time, but the NFL did uphold the suspension.
Pryor and Newton were the faces of college football during their day. Green and Bryant were great, but both didn't have nearly the same impact. Manziel's stature is comparable to Newton and Pryor's, which makes the critics of the NCAA think the odds favor his avoiding serious punishment.
Bryant does make a point, and there should be a suspension if the NCAA can prove these allegations to be true. However, with Texas A&M in the national title conversation and Manziel the biggest name in college sports, don't hold your breath.
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