Anyone who has access to a television, computer or has even picked up the sports section of any given newspaper this summer has heard all too much about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. After winning the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman, Manziel has had quite the offseason. Manziel has been criticized for his off the field antics of drinking, partying and maybe having a little too much fun, but recently he found himself in the middle of an NCAA investigation. Reports surfaced at the beginning of the month that Manziel had been paid to sign autographs, which is a direct violation of NCAA rules. After the NCAA examined Manziel’s situation for the better part of this month they finally announced on Wednesday that Manziel will be suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s season opener against Rice this Saturday, thus putting an end to the Johnny Manziel autograph saga. At least for the time being.
However, of all of the angles and spins taken on this blown up controversy, the question still remains: How much is Johnny Football’s “Johnny Hancock” actually worth? Currently on ebay.com a piece of memorabilia autographed by Manziel is being auctioned for as much as $1,350.00! That is a lot of money for an autograph from someone who has played in 13 college football games. At this point in his career you don’t know what you are getting value wise out of a Johnny Manziel autograph. Sure, he will always have the title of freshman Heisman Trophy winner, but until we see how he responds to all of the pressure surrounding him after a nightmare of an offseason it is unfair to put a price tag on his signature.
There are clearly two routes that Manziel’s collegiate career could take at this point. This first, and less likely, is that he will crack under pressure. Meaning he will either underperform significantly on the field or will continue to make more poor decisions off of the field which could cost him his NCAA eligibility. This is a scenario similar to that of former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett who – like Manziel – had an outstanding freshman year which was highlighted by winning the 2002 National Championship. However, Clarett could not stay out of trouble while he was off the field and was later kicked off of the team after just one season.
The second route that Manziel’s career could take would be one more similar to Cam Newton’s. Manziel is not the first star college quarterback to be involved in an eligibility controversy. During Cam Newton’s Heisman Trophy winning season at Auburn in 2010, reports surfaced that his father had accepted a significant amount of money during the time period in which major universities were recruiting Newton. However, Newton did not let the reports of a potential suspension or loss of eligibility affect his play as he went on to lead Auburn to an undefeated season resulting in a victory in the National Championship game.
I definitely believe that Manziel’s story will ultimately be more similar to Newton’s than Clarett’s as I expect to see Manziel make another run for the Heisman Trophy this year. Although there is a chance that the Aggies quarterback crumbles under the pressure, I believe that when it comes down to it the kid is a gamer. He has a winning attitude that will allow for him to prevail despite all of the controversy surrounding him. With that being said I would take a chance on buying a Johnny Manziel autograph if the price was right. Would I spend hundred of dollars on it like some people? Absolutely not because like I said we still are not certain as to what route Manziel’s career will take after all of the controversy that has been surrounding him. However, despite a half game suspension and an offseason from hell, I expect Manziel to still have a huge year and a decorated collegiate career which will likely make his autograph worth a lot of money one day. But for now, I would be careful as to how much money I spend on it.
Jon Keller is a writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @jkell2005.