Thursday, August 29, 2013

JOHNNY MANZIEL, NCAA, AND DOING THE RIGHT THING


We are a country that loves to condemn first and ask questions later. Our reactions are mostly
knee-jerk or strongly influenced by what we read, see, or hear on ESPN or the Internet.
We figure that if it's on the World Wide Leader or www dot something, then by golly, it must
be true.

When ESPN reported in early August that Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning
quarterback from Texas A & M, may have taken money in exchange for putting his signature
on Johnny Football merchandise, the court of public opinion had him suspended and all but
giving his Heisman Trophy award back.

Manziel, who has been in the news for his bad behavior more than Lindsay Lohan just HAD
to be guilty. I mean, several of the low-life's who peddled Manziel's autograph for profit said
they saw him take money. People with an agenda would never lie, would they? Especially ones
in the sleazy world of selling merchandise with someone's signature on it. You know, the kind
of industry that pays little kids to get a star players autograph at a game. But since it was
stated on ESPN or in article on the Internet, by, golly, it must be true.


Remember Bernie Fine and the alleged child-sex abuse scandal at Syracuse. If you asked 1,000
people how that case turned out, 950 of them would probably say that Fine was guilty and is
spending the rest of his life in jail. ESPN had a tape, which they sat on for seven years, with
Fine's splendid wife saying that Bernie was twisted and may have had an inappropriate relationship
with a ball-boy while he was a longtime trusted assistant of Jim Boeheim. We forget that
Fine's wife allegedly had a sexual relationship with that same kid. That case was so sick and
twisted, it should be made into a made for TV move.

After ESPN aired the tape, Fine was immediately fired by a Syracuse administration that had
a knee-jerk reaction. Forget about an investigation or searching for the facts, because, by golly,
it was on ESPN and it must be true.


By the way, after a thorough investigation by prosecutors in Syracuse, Fine was cleared of any
charges and any wrong doing. Unfortunately, it didn't clear his reputation which was damaged
forever. Fine is suing ESPN, though.

The NCAA investigated Manziel for weeks and didn't find the smoking gun they were looking
for. Oh, sure, they may have had people who said they saw and heard that Manziel took
money, but hearsay, means nothing when you're trying to convict someone. Perhaps,
Manziel was just smarter than half the guys that showed up on MLB's Mitchell Report and
didn't leave any kind of paper trail. Many baseball players wrote checks for more than $3,000
to a known steroid supplier. Hello? Can you be any dumber? There are few things easier than
running down a cancelled check.


The NCAA and Texas A & M, after a thorough investigation, suspended Manziel for the
first-half of the first game of the season against Rice. You could say that is the lightest slap
on the wrist in the history of light slaps. The NCAA didn't find any tangible proof that Manziel
took money in exchange for money, but believed Manziel violated one of their eight million
by-laws.

The NCAA and A&M agreed on the one-half suspension because Manziel violated bylaw
12.5.21. The rule says student-athletes cannot permit their names or likenesses to be used for commercial purposes, including to advertise, recommend or promote sales of commercial
products, or accept payment for the use of their names or likenesses.


So, there you have it. For all you Manziel haters, he's not going to be tarred, feathered, or
declared ineligible for the season. Manziel enjoyed what many people in their work place
or in society don't often get, due process. The Manziel hating world would have liked to
seen things differently. Sorry.

The NCAA, which hasn't done much right lately, did the right thing in this case. They had
no proof that Manziel took any money and made the right call. Sorry, but that's the way
it should work.


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