Two weeks after Texas A&M issued a half-game suspension to Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel for signing items that would knowingly be sold for a profit, a photo of the incident in question has surfaced. The photo, obtained and released by ESPN, shows Manziel signing photos in the apartment of broker Drew Tieman, with Tieman standing by his side overseeing the signatures.
According to previous reports, Tieman was said to have paid Manziel $10,000 for signatures provided over a two-day period. The NCAA investigated and cleared Manziel of any wrongdoing, although Texas A&M issued a half-game suspension for violating NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199, prohibiting student athletes from signing anything that will be sold regardless of compensation.
So what does this all mean? Manziel was already investigated by the NCAA and served a brief suspension for the incident this photo stems from. There is nothing extra incriminating in the photo, so there would be little reason to explore the incident any more. Had there been a pile of cash or a check with Manziel’s name on it visible on the table, then perhaps we are talking about a different story. That is not the case here though, so there should be little the NCAA can do in light of the new photo being shared.
One thing that has come in to discussion is whether or not Manziel could face any other punishment from Texas A&M. That does not appear to be something that would likely stem from this photo alone. Manziel was suspended for violation of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52, which would seem to indicate Manziel confirmed with Texas A&M he had signed items. Whether he lied or was honest about being paid is something only Manziel (and the broker) know for sure, but if he had been paid for his signatures he would have been ruled ineligible rather than simply suspended. If it comes out that he did in fact lie and it can be proven by the NCAA and Texas A&M,then Manziel would also be in direct violation of Texas A&M’s honor code, which could lead to being expelled from the university entirely.
Granted, this would be an extreme worst-case scenario, but even with this photo there is not enough evidence to suggest beyond a reasonable doubt Manziel was misleading about the situation. We can all have our beliefs on what actually happened, but we also live in a country where we are innocent until proven guilty. For the time being, Manziel remains a free man.