- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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It’s pretty obvious by now that the NCAA never really had anything on Johnny Manziel.
He might have signed thousands of autographs for a number of brokers in a number of locales. But if he took money or agreed to take money -- and Johnny Football insists he did neither -- then the NCAA couldn’t find an ounce of proof.
Makes you wonder what all was discussed in that six-hour powwow between Manziel and the NCAA on Sunday.
Also makes you wonder if the NCAA has been rendered completely and utterly toothless.
The biggest joke to come out of all this is that Manziel will be suspended for a half.
Not a game (with deference to Allen Iverson), but a half.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner will sit out the first half of Saturday’s season opener against Rice because of a secondary violation. In short, Manziel is being punished because he should have known better than to sign all those autographs for brokers who were going to profit from them.
Naturally, skeptics will huff that nobody would agree to sign that many items out of the goodness of their heart or be that oblivious.
But, again, where’s the proof that any money exchanged hands?
Regardless of whether Manziel took thousands of dollars or didn’t take a dime, it’s laughable that he would be suspended for a half.
Why suspend him at all?
It’s reminiscent of your grandmother spanking you on the wrist when you were a kid with her padded paddle.
You can’t help but wonder what former Georgia star receiver A.J. Green is thinking. He sold one of his bowl jerseys for $1,000 to someone the NCAA considered an agent and it cost him four games in 2010.
But the NCAA had the goods on him.
You also have to think a few eyebrows have been raised at Ohio State, where five players -- including former quarterback Terrelle Pryor -- were suspended in 2011 for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards as well as receiving improper benefits from a local tattoo parlor.
No two cases are the same when it comes to these matters, and all that really matters is what you can prove.
If you read the joint statement released by Texas A&M and the NCAA, the bottom line was that there was no evidence that Manziel accepted any money.
Here’s the part of that statement that really jumped off the page: “NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for items they sign, and based on the information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case.”
It was also noted in the statement that the NCAA would review any additional information that might come to light in the matter.
Here’s betting that it’s a closed case.
The question now: What kind of impact will the culmination of the past eight months have on Manziel, who we forget is only 20 years old?
Controversy can be a funny thing. Some players draw strength from it. Others melt from it.
The more the heat turned up on Cam Newton in 2010, the better he played.
There’s no question Manziel’s inner fire is raging. He’s the ultimate competitor and revels in proving people wrong.
There’s going to be more pressure on him than ever before to perform this season, and as soon as he stumbles for the first time, everybody is going to wonder if he was his own worst enemy.
But if you know anything about Johnny Football, know this: He’s not thinking about stumbling. He’s not thinking about what else might be out there regarding potential NCAA violations, and he’s not thinking about what defenses have in store for him this season, which will almost certainly be his last in College Station.
Nope, Johnny Football is thinking about one thing -- making a few people pay.
And not for his autograph.