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NCAA tries — and fails — to save face on Johnny Football investigation

Manziel declared ineligible for the first half of Texas A&M's opener Saturday against Rice.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 28, 2013

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.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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