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Manziel issue gets thicker


Another day, another report from ESPN citing evidence from an unnamed source that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel signed memorabilia in exchange for money.

In Tuesday’s report, an East Coast autograph dealer said he paid Manziel $7,500 for signing approximately 300 mini- and full-sized A&M helmets on Jan. 11-12 in New Haven, Conn. The ESPN report said the broker played two cellphone videos for an ESPN reporter. But the video does not show Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, accepting money.

The report said the videos, taken without Manziel’s knowledge, included a clip of Manziel saying “you never did a signing with me” and telling the broker that, if he were to tell anyone, Manziel would refuse to deal with him in the future.

The report also said the broker does not intend to cooperate with the NCAA investigation involving Manziel, which came to light in Sunday’s Outside the Lines segment. In that report, two unnamed sources said Manziel agreed to sign memorabilia in exchange for a five-figure fee during his trip to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami. Both sources said they witnessed the signings but not an exchange of money.

Under NCAA rules, an athlete can sign memorabilia but cannot be compensated for doing so. An athlete who violates that rule could be declared ineligible.

A&M administrators, who have retained a law firm to deal with Manziel’s eligibility issues, have acknowledged they are gathering facts but have had no other comment. Auburn took similar steps in 2010 to help keep Cam Newton eligible.

Newton led Auburn to the 2010 national championship despite playing under a cloud of suspicion that his father shopped Cam’s services to the highest bidder coming out of junior college. In a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press, Newton said he’s spoken to Manziel about being a Heisman winner in the limelight and sympathizes with the A&M quarterback.

“For any college athlete, you are vulnerable to so many things,” Newton said.

He added Manziel “has to go through these types of situations to know how to handle them in the future.”

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