Johnny Manziel on the Cover of TIME Accelerates Debate of Players Being Paid

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 5, 2013

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB Johnny ManzielThomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Times, they are a changin', as the debate to pay major college athletes has become one of the most hotly contested in major college sports.

Time magazine is accelerating that process.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will grace the cover of this week's edition, with the headline: "It's Time to Pay College Athletes."

Our new cover: It's time to pay college athletes, featuring Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) |

— (@TIME) September 5, 2013

Simple, direct and to the point.

Manziel gracing the cover of one of the most prestigious American magazines is news in and of itself, according to's Bruce Feldman.

RE Manziel: Looks like you have to go back 47 yrs to find a college FB player (#ND's Jim Seymour & Terry Hanratty) on TIME magazine's cover.

— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) September 5, 2013

It's also a major step forward in the debate.  

This isn't ESPN or another sports outlet making a stand on college athletics, it's a major national publication that caters to a much broader audience than sports fans. If public pressure within the sports community wasn't vocal enough, now the debate has been accelerated by the inclusion of non-sports fans.

That's huge.

Let's not be mistaken, though, the value of a college scholarship—$35,000-$40,000 per year depending on the institution—is important; especially when you toss in the health care benefits, athletic training, etc. that athletes receive. But with skyrocketing revenues, it's nowhere near the market value for star college football players.

When all is said and done, the autograph scandal that cost Manziel the first half of the Rice game will be a landmark event in the evolution of college athletics. While sides are split on what punishment Manziel should have received as a result of signing a large quantity of items that were sold by brokers, the rules in question are largely viewed as archaic.

Players should be able to profit off their likeness in some way, shape or form. Aside from a full cost of attendance stipend that SEC commissioner Mike Slive has suggested should be $4,000 per year, doing so within the structure of the NCAA is a tall order.

One possibility would be to set up trusts with NCAA oversight that allow players from all sports to capitalize on their market value by profiting off their likeness. These accounts would only be accessible by the student-athlete upon graduation, which would keep the "sanctity" of college athletics while allowing the athlete to earn what the market dictates.

The Ed O'Bannon case versus the NCAA has been ongoing for a while. If successful, its outcome could dramatically shift the landscape of college athletics. 

The Manziel scandal and the Time cover both come at the best possible time. They both have raised further awareness to the rising tide in favor of paying student-athletes.

It's going to happen one way or another, and Time making a stand will only accelerate the process.