Johnny Manziel Talks College Athletes' NIL Rights: 'I'm Glad That It Happened'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2021

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - APRIL 24: Johnny Manziel throws a pass during half time of the spring game at Kyle Field on April 24, 2021 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Johnny Manziel, who became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012 at Texas A&M, said Monday that he's happy college athletes can now benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) rights.

Manziel told Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he thinks there was a "huge opportunity to make a lot of money" during his time at a high-profile college football program, and he believes the new laws being implemented around the country will benefit a lot of players:

"I still think that goes for college guys moving forward. I think that'll be a very, very profitable thing, that guys will get approached by peopleโ€”which happens already, regardless of what's recently been ruled.
"But I think it's good to put some money in these guys' pockets. It's no fun when you're on a $600 stipend check every month and sometimes getting through the month struggling to get by on a couple ... maybe 100 bucks. So it's trending in the right direction, I'm glad that it happened and I'm glad that it's gotten to this point from where it was."

In June, Manziel confirmed on Barstool Sports' Bussin' With The Boys podcast (via Sporting News' Zac Al-Khateeb) he accepted around $33,000 to sign autographs after winning the Heisman at A&M:

"This guy comes up behind me and was like, 'Yo, how would you want to make three grand?' I turn around, I'm like, 'F--k yeah, bro.' I got like 65 bucks in my bank account. I'm waiting on that beginning of the month January stipend check," he said. "So I take this guy's number down, we're doing it all sneaky, we don't want to get caught. We're trying to to learn from everybody else who got caught."

He added on the Barstool podcast that another person told him he was being lowballed by the $3,000 deal and proposed an additional $30,000 to sign more items, which he also accepted.

The 28-year-old Texas native enjoyed a standout collegiate career, but it never translated to professional success either in the NFL or his other stops, including the CFL.

Manziel told Williams it would have been "great" to maximize his NIL rights when he was in college, but added he's "happy as I've ever been" and not worried about the lost financial opportunities. He's more happy about how the situation will benefit players who follow in his footsteps:

"So is it a very good thing and a blessing for most of the guys who come in? Absolutely. Nobody's arguing that. What's wrong with more? For guys who bring a lot to campuses and guys who bring a lot to the university itself.
"I feel like I made a forever-lasting impact on Texas A&M. I feel like you could say the same thing about Reggie Bush or Vince Young or a ton of guys down the line. [Texas Tech's] Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, you think those guys wouldn't have made some money back in their day, too?
"There's guys out there who move the needle, who do special things, who are going to have a chance to capitalize on it monetarily-wise."

The former Cleveland Browns signal-caller concluded the situation will "change the landscape" and he's interested to see how the NCAA will respond as deals are made.

Meanwhile, Manziel has continued his football career at the sport's lower levels, most recently playing for the Zappers in the Fan Controlled Football league.