Yesterday, South Carolina and its star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney were pulled into the Johnny Manziel autograph saga. A number of websites — including the prominent Texas A&M fan site, GoodBullHunting.com — began reporting that Clowney had a hundreds of consecutively-numbered autographs available on the internet. Predictably, more players and more autographs were soon targeted.
When I called out Texas A&M fans for using the rather childish and finkish “Well, he did it, too” defense, I was quickly told that those people asking questions about Clowney were actually exposing the inconsistency of both the NCAA and ESPN.
Uh, no they’re not.
Texas A&M’s Manziel made news on ESPN because that network’s reporters had learned that the Heisman-winner was under investigation by the NCAA. Clowney and others — to our knowledge — are not under NCAA scrutiny. There’s no double-standard there from ESPN. Manziel is under investigation. Other players are not. Pretty big difference right there.
“Ah, so what about the NCAA’s double-standard, then?”
ESPN has found multiple people who’ve claimed that either a) they paid Team Manziel for autographs or b) they were asked to pay Team Manziel for autographs. If ESPN heard enough rumors to track down some of the autograph brokers in question, you can be sure that the NCAA had heard enough about Manziel and cash transactions to start sniffing around. In fact, ESPN has stated that the dealers they’ve spoken to have already been contacted by the NCAA, though they’ve apparently decided not to play snitch. In other words, the NCAA was after these brokers before ESPN tracked them down.
Again, that’s not a double-standard. Manziel was reportedly paid — or his main handler asked for payment — while there have been no claims that Clowney or others were paid… much less paid five figures. That, too, is a pretty big difference between the cases.
Texas A&M fans are feeling what all fanbases feel when the NCAA or ESPN start snooping around their team. They feel as though the world is unfairly out to get them because everybody hates them.
That’s a completely natural feeling when bad things could befall you. It’s also completely ridiculous.
ESPN is not out to get Manziel. They covered his football exploits ad nauseum last season. Heisman voters saw all that coverage. The network helped build him into a star. (Though he took things the rest of the way by living a jetsetter’s lifestyle and tweeting back reports to a growing band of gawkers.)
Now that he’s become a superstar, Manziel’s every move makes news. Does anyone really believe that any other Heisman-winner’s early departure from the Manning Passing Academy wouldn’t have been covered? Anyone believe that some other Heisman-winner wouldn’t have had it mentioned when he tweeted that he wanted out of his college town?
Manziel has become a celebrity and when he spits in the road it becomes news. That’s not ESPN or the media’s fault. That’s just the way of the world. As we’ve stated numerous times, a person can’t brag about his 400,000+ Twitter followers one minute and then complain that too many people are following his every move the next.
Still, even AggieYell.com — the Rivals.com site covering A&M — suggested earlier this week that ESPN launched its story on Sunday because the Aggies were breaking camp the next day. For what purpose? Because they really want to mess with Johnny Football and the Aggies? How ’bout it aired on Sunday because ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” show — which airs on Sunday — got the story and wanted to run it before anyone else got it and ran it? That seems a bit more realistic than an SEC-partner network attempting to scupper Texas A&M’s football season.
Think about this logically. ESPN owns the vast majority of SEC games. Manziel is one of the — if not the — biggest draws in the country. Does anyone think that ESPN’s decision-makers want Manziel out of the picture so they won’t be able to use him and a good A&M squad to boost their ratings?
As for the NCAA, if someone comes forward to say that Clowney or AJ McCarron or Aaron Murray or any other player took $10,000+ for autographs you can bet those claims will be investigated, too. To date, there have been no claims. Though some might come now because Clowney and others have been unfairly pulled into this.
Those who said, “What about him?” weren’t pointing out ESPN or NCAA duplicity. They were comparing apples to oranges. Manziel is under investigation; Clowney isn’t. Manziel reportedly took money; Clowney didn’t.
If someone claims that Clowney took cash, fine. All the sleuths can start digging. But until that happens, the sites talking about Clowney owe him an apology.