Johnny Manziel did what he’s always done. Win.
Manziel, college football’s most dynamic player, was threatened with a suspension for allegedly being paid to sign autographs, but he escaped with a light sentence on Wednesday.
Manziel was suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s opening game Saturday against Rice. The returning Heisman Trophy winning quarterback can resume his career in the third quarter.
Texas A&M associate athletic director Jason Cook told USA Today that there was an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules and the “NCAA found no evidence Manziel received monetary reward in exchange for his autographs.”
Earlier this month, ESPN reported that Manziel worked six autograph sessions and was paid five figures for one and $7,500 on another. Had the NCAA found evidence implicating Manziel, he would have violated rules involving selling a likeness for commercial purposes.
That didn’t happen here, the NCAA said in a statement:
“NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for items they sign, and based on information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case.”
When it’s happened in the past, suspensions have ranged from four games to half a season. And when athletes have been caught lying to NCAA investigators they’ve lost an entire season. See Dez Bryant and Oklahoma State.
As part of his punishment, Manziel also must address his teammates on the situation, presumably the message being autographs can be sold, so be wary of Comic Book Guy.
The summer of Manziel now comes to a close: Autographs sessions, first pitches, Cabo spring break, NBA Finals, Manning Passing Academy, Texas frat party.
Football season has arrived, and so will Johnny Football, one half late.