Dez Bryant blasts 'unfair' NCAA
OXNARD, Calif. -- The NCAA's investigation of Johnny Manziel brings up bad memories and bitter feelings for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who was suspended for the final 10 games of his college career.
Bryant has mixed emotions while he closely monitors coverage of Manziel's situation after allegations that the Texas A&M star violated NCAA rules by being paid to sign autographs. While Bryant wants to watch Manziel play this season, he said the NCAA's hypocrisy would bother him if the reigning Heisman Trophy winner isn't suspended.
[Manziel] should be able to sign as many autographs and make as much money as he wants, because it's his name. He's the one who created it. He should be able to do whatever he feels, as long as it's legal, and I don't think anything is illegal about signing your name on a picture of yourself, making money off yourself.” -- Dez Bryant on Johnny Manziel
"Hell, yeah, I'll be mad. I'll be mad," said Bryant, who was a Heisman candidate in 2009 before being suspended for lying to an NCAA investigator about a lunch with former NFL star Deion Sanders that didn't violate any NCAA rules. "But I don't want him to get suspended. I would be mad more at the NCAA for how they do things.
"I just feel like it's not fair. This is something I have no problem talking about because I feel like somebody needs to say something to them and let it be known how they treat people is not right."
Bryant said he feels like he "didn't get the same love" from the media as Manziel when he was under scrutiny by the NCAA. He attributes that to Manziel's status as a Heisman Trophy winner and the popularity of the Texas A&M program.
"I don't think my situation was as [bad] as his," Bryant said. "Johnny Manziel is a great football player. I really hope him the best. I hope he doesn't get suspended. I pray that he don't get suspended, because I love watching him. But as far as the NCAA, I just think they do a lot of stuff unfair."
Bryant also cited the delayed five-game suspension of former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor for accepting improper benefits as an example of the NCAA being inconsistent with its punishment. Pryor was allowed to play in Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas after the 2010 season and entered the NFL's supplemental draft instead of serving his NCAA suspension.
"All I did was lie about going over to somebody's house and I got my season taken away from me," Bryant said. "Still to this day, I think about it. It bothers me. I can't get it back. No matter how much money I make in this league ... that really meant something to me.
Fitzsimmons and Durrett
Richard Durrett, Ian Fitzsimmons and Glenn "Stretch" Smith react to Dez Bryant sounding off yesterday after practice about Johnny Manziel and the shadiness of the NCAA.
"I just think the NCAA, they don't do a good enough job. I just honestly feel like it's about money and TV ratings."
"I know what he's going through. I know the witch-hunting that goes on at the NCAA. How those meetings go. How mentally stressful they are. How hard it is to focus on football," Posey said. "I just feel his pain. Whatever he did people have to remember the way ESPN and you guys report it, it's not a crime. He's still a good kid, and he just loves football and he wants to eventually make it to this level, and people have to remember that."
Bryant is adamant that he never accepted any improper benefits at Oklahoma State, saying he lied to the NCAA investigator because he was scared while being interrogated. However, Bryant firmly believes that college athletes should be allowed to profit off of their celebrity status, pointing out that the NCAA sold Manziel's jersey on its website until changing the policy recently after being criticized by the media.
"I feel like players in the NCAA should [be allowed to make money on endorsements and autograph signings]," Bryant said. "Those fans are coming to watch them and support them. Whenever you're in college, it's different. You don't get paid like the NFL gets paid. I think it would be OK to have a little money in your pocket. It's hard in college. You've got to get a job if you can. You've got to practice. It's just hard. Sometimes the training table is not good enough.
"[Manziel] should be able to sign as many autographs and make as much money as he wants, because it's his name. He's the one who created it. He should be able to do whatever he feels, as long as it's legal, and I don't think anything is illegal about signing your name on a picture of yourself, making money off yourself.
"The NCAA makes money off of it when they sell those No. 2 shirts, so why can't he make a little bit of money off it?"
Bryant declined to say whether he had ever considered legal action against the NCAA. He emphasized that his problem with the NCAA is that it doesn't look out for the best interests of the athletes.
"I don't want anything to happen to Manziel, I promise," Bryant said. "I just want them to know what they're doing is not right. They need to know and they need to understand that. Seriously, they really do."
ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli contributed to this report.