Reilly: Selling Johnny Football

February, 27, 2013
2/27/13
9:00
AM ET
There are a lot of things that Johnny Manziel can do.

He can easily make defenses look silly with his slipperiness. He can deliver that beautifully clutch pass at just the right moment. He can set bowl records and beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. And he can completely change the way teams defend his Texas A&M team because of how dangerous he is with a football in his hands.

But what he can't do is get paid for all of this.

Manziel
The Heisman Trophy winner, who because the first freshman in college football history to win the sport's most coveted individual award, has done plenty for his school -- and the NCAA -- but can't see a dime for his duty, unless he wants to lose his eligibility.

While I'm not one for paying college athletes, despite the millions and millions they bring to their sport, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly does bring up some interesting points in his piece concerning the selling of Johnny Football.

Because Manziel can't make money on his likeness, his lawyer suggested that he trademark his "Johnny Football" nickname. In fact, he pretty much had to or else the NCAA could rule him ineligible because others would be profiting off of his likeness while he was still a collegiate athlete.

But the kicker to all of this is that the NCAA ruled this week that Manziel could keep any money he won from potential lawsuits (like Manziel suing someone for selling T-shirts with his nickname on them).

So, Manziel can't benefit financially from all the money helped bring to his school during his historic Heisman year or the No. 2 Aggies jerseys the A&M bookstore sells, but the NCAA says he can profit from lawsuits from outsiders using his likeness.

Reilly then brings up the notion that instead of going after small potatoes, like selling-from-his-van guy, Manziel and his lawyers should go after the NCAA and Texas A&M and the Heisman for using his likeness and banking off of it. It might sound silly, but it does actually make sense. If he can finally make money on his image -- and this is a legit loophole for that exact thing to happen -- why not go after the big fish?

Will Manziel take that course of action? Probably not because that would be pretty awkward to say the least. But the NCAA has to be careful with this situation because it could open up a can of crisp, green worms for college athletes. Manziel won't be the last player who watches his likeness get sold out of some guy's van down by the river.

Reilly ends his piece with an interesting take on how Manziel -- and other college athletes -- could actually make some real money while still in school. I won't ruin it because you should read Reilly's entire piece, but for someone who is against the idea of student-athletes getting paid beyond their scholarships, I actually like this idea and think it could really benefit the sport.

We're getting closer and closer to college athletes making some real cash, and the Manziel incident could be a game-changer.

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