Johnny Football played Catch Me If You Can with the Alabama Crimson Tide last November, running all over Bryant-Denny Stadium. Bama couldn't.
Then young Johnathan Paul Manziel played Catch Me If You Can with the Sooners in January, running all over JerryWorld in the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners couldn't.
Finally, Manziel played Catch Me If You Can with the NCAA, running all over the Eastern Seaboard, signing autographs, out of the goodness of his heart according to his own testimony. The NCAA couldn't.
So Saturday, Johnny Football will be on Kyle Field, playing Catch Me If You Can with the Rice Owls. The Owls can't, since at last check their defenders aren't quite as nimble as Nick Saban's Tuscaloosa terrors.
Oh, Manziel won't play the full game. The NCAA, trying and failing to save face, has declared Johnny Football ineligible for the first half of Texas A&M's opener. Thus Manziel is relegated to only a half against Rice, which is what he was going to play anyway, since the Aggies would have steamed Rice quickly and might anyway.
Thus another college football season figures to be played under a stench. This one all season, unlike in 2010, when Auburn won the national title despite November revelations that Scam Newton's preacher dad had bid out the services for his son in recruitment.
NCAA investigators, who are limited in probing power and for all we know might be limited in brain power, found no evidence that Manziel was paid to sign autographs last winter after his spectacular Heisman Trophy season.
Common sense, as you know if you've watched Law & Order, is not admissible evidence.
So yes, Johnny Football was in Miami, around the time of the Alabama-Notre Dame Big Bowl, and autographed thousands of items that in turn were sold by slimeballs and bought by nincompoops. And maybe Manziel gave himself writer's cramp because he didn't have anything else to do in South Beach.
What do you expect a 20-year-old party animal to do when turned loose in an American paradise? Chase girls? Hit the beach? Where's the fun in that?
Of course, Manziel also was in Connecticut in January doing the same autograph shtick, because what self-respecting celebrity can avoid the temptation of a Connecticut winter? Watch out New Haven, Taylor Swift will be up there in February, soaking up the cold.
When the autographs came to light, Manziel, having watched Law & Order himself, lawyered up and denied, denied, denied. Slimeballs don't write a lot of checks, so no one found a paper trail, and after six hours of interrogation Sunday, the NCAA detectives threw up their hands and asked for a compromise.
Manziel, a humanitarian at heart by his own testimony, gave the NCAA a bone and let A&M suspend him for a meaningless half against the third- or fourth-best football team in Houston.
Why? Why did the NCAA have to settle now? If you don't have evidence for an act you know was committed, why bail? Why not wait? Why not let the case simmer and see what breaks over September, October, November?
Why declare the case over with a slap on the wrist?
Because it benefits the culture of college football. Because the NCAA is not some star chamber that meets inside a vault in Indianapolis. The NCAA is Texas A&M, and Alabama, and Oklahoma, and dozens of other schools that wield the power in the organization.
And while some individual schools — ahem, paging the Texas Longhorns — are most disgusted by Manziel's mayhem, collectively, college football's culture is enhanced if this thing goes away.
The SEC wants it to go away. The television networks want it to go away. CBS does not want to televise the Sept. 14 Bama-A&M showdown with Matt Joeckel quarterbacking the Ags. Most of all, A&M wants it go away, so Aggie chancellor John Sharp can go back to his office in La-La Station, declare what a swell young lad is Master Johnathan and resume counting the millions brought in by A&M's newfound gridiron success.
Investigations are messy. They are wearisome. They are time-consuming.
The beleaguered NCAA, which lost its mind with the ridiculous Penn State penalty and lost its credibility with the never-ending Miami investigation, is ready to move on. Ready to turn its eyes away from Johnny Football's valuable signature and rest its eyes on Johnny Football's valuable quarterbacking.
The Ags play Rice at noon Saturday on ESPN.
Catch him if you can.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.