Anyone passingly familiar with college football has heard the stories/rumors of Heisman Trophy winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel signing memorabilia for money in violation of NCAA rules. ESPN has been pounding the story hard. It may be true. It seems true. But CBS Sports is pounding ESPN back for seeming to be awfully keen on chasing down Manziel — to the exclusion of other wider stories.
The recent allegations from ESPN of more autographs signings by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel point to an alarming trend. The “World Wide Leader In Sports” is focusing all of its resources on Manziel, and ignoring the other star athletes in college who have similar numbers of signed memorabilia available online.
ESPN’s focus on Manziel indicates either a surprising lack of effort by their investigative journalists, or a bias against Manziel and Texas A&M. There is simply no easy way to explain the sports channel’s motives, nor the inconsistencies in the story.
When ESPN started this story the narrative was that Manziel had accepted a “five-figure” sum to sign autographs. A day later the sum of money was changed to 7,500 from the original report of “five-figures.”
ESPN has no record of money changing hands. All they have are statements from “sources” that they gave Manziel money for his signatures. Joe Schad has allegedly seen video of Manziel signing memorabilia, but cannot provide the video for anyone else to see. The broker interpreted what Manziel said on the video as it was not readily apparent from Schad listening to it. Supposedly Manziel said he needed the $7,500 so he could buy rims for his car. This all allegedly occurred on January 11th and 12th.
A picture of Manziel driving his Mercedes was posted on a premium board of Texas A&M fan site TexAgs.com. The picture was taken on March 13th and shows Manziel’s vehicle with stock rims on it.
So there is no actual proof that Manziel took money, except the statement from a source that refuses to cooperate with anyone, that Manziel wanted money to buy rims for his car. There is proof that two months after this alleged transaction that Manziel still had not bought rims for his vehicle.
Schad and Darren Rovelle are doing most of the investigative reporting on Manziel. So far they have been unable to come up with a single “source” who will cooperate with the NCAA.
Drew Tieman was named in the “Outside The Lines” report that broke the investigation story on Manziel. He was the one who said that Manziel was paid a “five-figure sum.” Tieman has multiple arrests on his record including drug dealing, and has spent time in prison.
It is hard to take any investigation seriously that is based on the word of a drug dealer. Evidently that is all ESPN needs to make a story.
Since it has become apparent that ESPN cannot find any proof of Manziel receiving money, they have concentrated on the fact that Manziel has signed such a large number of items. Their argument is that he signed a large number of items that have been submitted to authenticators like JSA in sequential order.
I’m not a huge A&M fan, though I enjoyed their defeat of Alabama and Oklahoma very much (Texas uber alles of course) and he plays a style of football I appreciate. I also think he’s a cocky rich jock whose parents rarely tell him “No”. That doesn’t make him liable to take money, but it might make him suscepticle to thinking rules are for “little people”. I don’t know him so I can’t say other than on the evidence that presents itself publicly — and I take that with some grains of salt. I have been watching (or observing from the outside the past few years) ESPN’s ruination of my love of watching sports news, etc. What does it say about a network that their heyday was when Keith Olbermann was on it? ESPN sucks hard and has for a long time. The quality of their content suffers (except for the 30 for 30 documentaries, Baseball Tonight and College Game Day by and large) and they regularly commit the unpardonable sin in sports — they inject politics into the mix. A pox on all involved here perhaps… Manziel, ESPN, and the NCAA. But especially on ESPN.