Johnny Manziel Becomes 'Johnny Bravado' in Denying Taking Money for Autographs
Johnny Manziel just went all in.
What he went all in on, though, remains to be seen.
CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman confirmed ESPN's initial report that Manziel met with the NCAA for a prolonged period of time on Sunday and added that the 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies denied taking money from brokers in exchange for his autograph.
Confident? You bet.
It's also par for the course.
This is the same guy who didn't care about that "S-E-C" patch on the logos of his opposing defenses in 2012. All he did was lead his team to an upset of No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and set the SEC single-season total offense record with 5,116 yards—as a redshirt freshman.
This is the same guy who didn't care that the vocal minority got upset when he partied on Bourbon Street and rubbed elbows with NBA stars in locker rooms. He did it anyway—and took pictures.
This is the same guy that didn't apologize for having fun like the majority of other 20-year-old college students do. At SEC Media Days, with the spotlight squarely on him, he embraced it.
He's not "Johnny Football." He's "Johnny Bravado."
This time, though, he's skating on thin ice.
The NCAA is looking to maintain relevance in an era in which the botched Miami investigation and archaic rules have turned it into the enemy in the eyes of the public. That's apparent. But it still has the power to end a player's career. It will do so if it feels like a player or university lied to it, even with the threat of legal retaliation in its face.
Manziel's meeting with the NCAA—which was the initial meeting between the two parties, according to ESPN.com's Travis Haney—indicates that the organization spent some time gathering evidence from outside College Station before coming to Manziel with specific questions.
Manziel's denial indicates that, whether he knows he's innocent or confident in the lie, he knows he can sell it. Manziel apparently handles his business off the field in the same way he handles it on the field.
High risk, high reward.
How exactly did he sell his denial? Did he sign all of those authenticated items out of the goodness of his heart? Did professional memorabilia authentication companies get duped by an elaborate hoax involving several dealers in multiple states? What jumped out from Manziel's financial records that raised red flags?
Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.
This story has largely been stuck in neutral since news of the potential autograph scandal broke on Aug. 6, but Manziel's meeting with the NCAA shifted it into high gear.
Manziel has the pedal to the metal—just like he always does. This time, he has the BCS National Championship hopes of his program along for the ride. It doesn't look like his program is screaming to get out of the car, either.
Game week in College Station has never been more interesting.
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