Johnny Manziel must think rules do not apply to him

The soap opera swirling around Johnny Manziel is adding another sordid chapter. It's messy and ugly and complicated. But the problem is quite simple - he thinks rules are for everyone else.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: August 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm •  Published: August 6, 2013
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photo - Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel warms up during football practice, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, in College Station, Texas. The NCAA has started an investigation as to whether Manziel received payment for signing hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia in January. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)  ORG XMIT: TXPX105
Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel warms up during football practice, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, in College Station, Texas. The NCAA has started an investigation as to whether Manziel received payment for signing hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia in January. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider) ORG XMIT: TXPX105

The soap opera swirling around Johnny Manziel is adding another sordid chapter.

After an offseason that has been filled with all sorts of twists and turns, the Heisman Trophy winner is being investigated by the NCAA. He may have taken thousands from an autograph broker. He may have committed violations so severe that he may never play another game at Texas A&M.

It's messy and ugly and complicated.

The problem, though, is quite simple — this guy doesn't think rules apply to him.

Before you start ranting and raving about NCAA rules and saying that they're unfair to college athletes like Manziel, let's remember that Manziel agreed to operate under them when he accepted a scholarship to Texas A&M. But even if we take this potential violation of NCAA rules out of the equation — innocent until proven guilty, right? — one thing has become abundantly clear.

Manziel doesn't believe rules are meant for him.

The evidence of that is overwhelming.

Long before these potential NCAA violations came to light, Manziel had already ignored plenty of rules. We don't yet know if he broke any written rules, but he's absolutely guilty of violating unwritten ones.

When you're the quarterback of a high-profile college football team, for example, there are certain expectations. Set an example for your teammates. Have good judgment. Show some maturity. Be a leader.

Wearing a Scooby Doo costume and taking lots of pictures with scantily clad gals during Halloween doesn't really do any of that.

Same goes for continuing to attend high-profile events even when each appearance brings questions about NCAA violations and football focus.

Then, of course, there was the tweet this summer about how he couldn't wait to leave College Station.

For an average 20-year-old college student, all of things that Manziel has done would be fine.

But Manziel isn't an average 20-year-old college student.

This has nothing to do with winning the Heisman either. If he'd never won the little bronze statue, he'd still be expected to act a certain way. He's the quarterback at Texas A&M — a gig he signed up for, by the way — and his team expects him to live up to that lofty position.

Imagine if Landry Jones had done some of the things that Manziel has done while he was at Oklahoma. Or if Brandon Weeden had acted this way at Oklahoma State. Neither won a Heisman, but both were expected to be leaders, and they abided by those unwritten rules.

Manziel has not.

If I'm one of his teammates, I'm furious about it, too.

His actions say the team isn't among his priorities, and these latest accusations only stand to reinforce that perception. If Manziel did what the reports are suggesting — accepting thousands of dollars from to sign memorabilia during a visit to the Miami area for the BCS championship game — he did so knowing he was breaking NCAA rules. Every college athlete knows taking such a payout is a violation. To so blatantly ignore the rules, Manziel was jeopardizing not only his eligibility but also his team's well being.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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