By now, it is common knowledge that Johnny Manziel, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Texas A&M, won a lawsuit seeking damages for the use of the phrase ‘Johnny Football.’
So, while the soon-to-be redshirt sophomore from Kerrville, Texas may have a legal right to the aforementioned phrase (he actually trademarked it), his courtroom victory opens another proverbial ‘can of worms’ that the NCAA, college football’s governing body, was hoping to avoid.
Simply put, should Manziel be allowed to cash in on his new-found notoriety?
In order for the NCAA to hang onto any shred of credibility it may have left, it has to be somewhat consistent on this issue. Allowing a player of that stature to earn even a modest profit from such a simple phrase would be creating a double standard. How is what Manziel doing now any different from what Reggie Bush or Terrelle Pryor did?
Yet instead of being proactive on this issue, the NCAA, in its typical disorganized fashion, awaited the legal ruling before weighing in on the matter. Their official statement on the matter is that the legal ruling does not affect Johnny Manziel’s status, because, according to an article in Sports Illustrated, it does not reflect ‘an orchestrated effort between the university and the individual.’
On the other hand, NCAA bylaws strictly forbid student athletes from profiting on their reputation(s). NCAA Bylaw 12.1.2 (subsection 2) is quite clear on the matter:
“Prohibited forms of pay included, but are not limited to, preferential treatment, benefits, or services because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.”
At best, the NCAA’s ruling on this matter should be viewed as gross negligence. At its worst, an organization already reeling from integrity issues may have signed its own death knell.