Johnny ‘Rotten’ or Johnny ‘Right On Time’?
If you’ve browsed any college football news within the past couple of weeks and haven’t noticed Johnny Manziel’s name you are either a liar or a … well you’re just a liar. The reigning Heisman Trophy recipient has once again made headlines; this time for potentially much more serious actions.
It was revealed recently that Manziel possibly benefited directly from autographs he provided to a sports memorabilia broker. Social network sites and news outlets alike erupted into a tizzy whose magnitude harkened memories of Cam Newton and the ‘bagman’ saga. Manziel was surely on the brink of self-destruction. Or was he? Since the story first broke, it has lost steam (relatively speaking) in that it isn’t so much critical of the shortcomings of Johnny Football as it is about a system that is as corrupt and broken as it can be.
There are rich old men profiting in every direction you can see in college athletics, but let one player allegedly receive one payment for a jersey and they might as well be committing murder. Jay Bilas, of Fox Sports, recently called the NCAA out on some of its own hypocrisy. The NCAA reacted quickly and acknowledged its own buffoonery for once, but it is only a single footstep down a long and winding road to total competency.
First and foremost, the NCAA should make it a top priority to be more transparent about their investigations and governing of the sports and athletes it serves and protects. Especially when they are investigating stories that receive an abundance of media attention. Time and time again, the individual player(s) or institutions suffer unfairly because of inaccurate information and rumors being circulated unchecked by official entities privy to knowledge of the contrary (that is you NCAA in case you were wondering).
The drama and intrigue of college athletics is nearly unrivaled, and yet, the people in charge of upholding the integrity of all of its members continually allow them to be used as elements in money grabbing soap operas. Who is really winning if it all is being corrupted from the inside out? And how long can it be expected to maintain its value if it is constantly being manipulated purely to generate greater profits?
Have you ever heard someone talk about their favorite college football moments? Their lasting memories of games long gone? Are they ever about what a player did off the field that should/could/would have made them ineligible? Like going to a concert? Or the Super Bowl? Or having a really nice car? I didn’t think so.
At the end of the day, Johnny Manziel may not be the best example to follow. He has made his fair share of mistakes for sure, but how many more Johnny Manziels will we have to see built up and then destroyed by his creators before we start to resent the machine we’ve all helped create?