ESPN’s Joe Schad spoke to a “prominent autograph broker.” Said broker claims Johnny Manziel’s personal assistant told him a second autograph session would cost him money. He also provided a “proof picture” of Manziel signing autographs. What does this add up to? More smoke. No fire.
Yes, this is a picture of Johnny Manziel signing autographs. Johnny Manziel signs a lot of autographs. Here is Johnny Manziel signing photos. Here he is signing a kid’s football. Here is someone’s shoulder blade that he signed. That took about 30 seconds of google image searching. There’s another photo of him signing autographs (via USA Today Sports) below.
We know he signs a lot of autographs. From Wright Thompson:
So Johnny signed everything, no matter how much he grumbled and cursed with a pen in his hand. Whenever he’d see his parents, they’d always have a carload of things to autograph. They hated it, and he did too. But they seemed compelled by manners, and obligation, and one autograph didn’t seem like that big a deal. But taken together, they just boxed him in more:
Many of these autographs undoubtedly went to autograph dealers who sell them on eBay. What matters is whether the NCAA can find proof he received money for signing autographs. That has not arrived yet and may not.
Johnny knew the rules. Which likely means he did not go deposit a personal check in his bank account or a large amount of cash. The proof would have to come from a source that’s not Manziel. That could be difficult. It’s one thing to leak circumstantial evidence to ESPN. It’s another to open yourself and your business to the NCAA. That’s not the wisest move, if you make your living getting college football players to sign autographs.
The NCAA can’t subpoena information (or co-opt a bankruptcy hearing in this case to do so). If neither party cooperates and the NCAA can’t independently track down the money, Johnny Manziel will be playing football.