Johnny Manziel Should Already Be a Millionaire, but the NCAA Is Holding Him Back

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2013

Though it’s pretty easy to see that Texas A&M star QB Johnny Manziel is literally “living the dream,” what if in reality he’s just another young athlete getting screwed?

Yes, “Johnny Football” has access to the best parties, elite travel opportunities, pretty girls and boatloads of fans but at the end of the day what is it all really worth?

Think about the bottom line for Manziel: what does he really have to show for his first-ever freshman Heisman and his skyrocket ride to fame?

Sure, we’ll always remember him, but if he gets hurt in 2013 or turns out to be a one-hit wonder with zero pro prospects, what does Manziel take with him when he goes?

The answer here is really simple; nothing.

Manziel—in partnership with coach Kevin Sumlin and a group of talented teammates—has managed to turn Texas A&M football on its ear and with that the university, the SEC conference and college football as a larger entity, has enjoyed huge financial rewards.

And, due to the way the NCAA defines “student athletes” Manziel and his band of talented on-field cohorts have virtually nothing in their bank accounts to tell of their storied success.

Though money doesn’t always define success, when you’re dealing with a multimillion dollar-generating sport like college football, it’s tough to stomach the fact being a top cash generator doesn’t mean you’ll see a single penny.

The truth is given an alternate universe Johnny Manziel’s wild popularity—which is not just limited to the confines of College Station, Texas, the Lone Star State or the SEC region of football—could equal a tidy sum in endorsements, appearance fees and profit-sharing.

That is if the NCAA allowed such crazy benefits to the “student athletes” whose participation actually generates the dollars.

Isn’t it ironic that the kid who is clad in a Texas A&M uniform with “Adidas” plastered all over it won’t see a single penny from his school’s relationship with the athletic supplier?

Yes, isn’t it just a bit odd that Manziel can’t—by NCAA law—earn a dime from sales of jersey’s bearing his name and number and that he’ll never get a piece of the action from his image as an Aggie?

Not in a video game, not in a photo and not in footage that can be sold as a part of Texas A&M’s glorious revival and foray into the SEC ranks.

Sure, Manziel may cash in his epic collegiate career on a full-fledged and very lucrative stint in the NFL, but the chances of that happening, in reality, are slim especially given the difference between the two levels of play (more pronounced at the QB position) and the risk of injury.

So, how much money would Manziel be looking at after just one single season at A&M if the NCAA opted to raise the shifty veil separating amateurism from the stacks of cash in the college football coffers?

Well, you’d have to figure given the frenzy associated with the first-ever freshman Heisman winner and the first bronze statuette in Aggieland since John David Crow carried one home in 1957, that the number could easily exceed a million bucks.

Especially if the right marketing people struck while the iron was hot.

This all leads to the obvious question of who really has the right to make money off Johnny Football?

Is it the institution where he enrolled to play college ball? Is it the SEC who negotiated his TV rights, the BCS which rules college football, ESPN which covers it so completely, or is it the NCAA which allows all these parties to reap in huge gains by utilizing a sentimental shield misnamed “student athlete?”

On one side, college football isn’t a business because Johnny Manziel is not an “employee” of the program he works for even though he earns that same institution a boatload of cash by using his talent and risking his athletic future.

Yes, college football can’t be a business because Johnny Football couldn’t even file a workman’s compensation claim if he were injured.

And this is true even though he generates as much cash as any single employee in the town he “works” in.

On the flip side, college football is a multimillion-dollar industry where everyone is getting crazy rich…well, that is except for the guys who actually play the game.

Again, these are the young men who risk their physical futures to add to a bottom line which they share no part in.

Their due reward?

A college scholarship which they would gladly toss aside, half used, for a coveted place in the NFL draft.

But, remember that as per an article posted in 2012 on only 1.7 percent of college football players make the pros.

These numbers are direct from the NCAA and mean that 98.3 percent of the guys who don’t earn a penny as a college player, but in many cases toil to earn other parties stacks of cash, will never make a career of football.

In other words, if you take 100 college football players, less than two of them will ever be financially rewarded for greasing the big money wheel of collegiate athletics.

Johnny Manziel is making lots of people lots of money but if fizzles out before leaving Texas A&M or gets seriously injured in the process, he’s left high and dry with nothing to show for it.

Meanwhile, the fat cats are happy to move on to the next set of victims and stand up for age-old values such as “amateurism” and the sacred concept of the “student athlete.”

Before immediately accepting the long-standing belief that college athletes shouldn’t be paid, seriously consider the following questions.

Is offering zero compensation to institutional athletes an honorable attempt to keep collegiate athletics free of the money-hungry brand of capitalism we kneel down to?

Or, instead is it a complete sham used to take advantage of the very athlete’s whose performances are the game, not just a part of it?

And where does a guy like Johnny Manziel, a superstar with loads of cash potential, fit into this unjust picture?


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