The NCAA is investigating whether Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was paid for signing hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia in January, “Outside the Lines” has learned.
—espn.com, Aug. 6
The following quotes were garnered and compiled from leaked transcripts of the NCAA’s investigation into the events surrounding alleged improprieties and violations of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel, athlete: I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong, to be honest. I was just writing my name on things.
Gary Holdman, NCAA Ethics Committee: We believe Manziel to have signed autographs for money in conjunction with three known autograph brokers, and believe him to have been paid a fee for doing so.
Manziel: I went into this hotel room in Miami and saw a bunch of football helmets and jerseys and stuff laid out on the bed. I thought that was cool.
Doug Peppers, owner, “Doug’s Autographs”: I had casually laid some of my favorite A&M football helmets on the bed. You know, just to look at them. Then there’s a knock at the door and I couldn’t believe Johnny was standing there.
Manziel: Doug seemed nice. He had a lot of stuff. I figured he must like A&M. I was like “I’ll bet this guy would be so happy if he had the quarterback from his favorite team’s name written on these.”
Peppers: I excused myself to go to the bathroom. I was in there for about six or seven minutes. When I came out, Johnny had written his name all over all of the helmets.
Manziel: I thought it would be funny. You know, just as a joke. And to be nice.
Peppers: I tried to tell him he’d ruined all my helmets but he was watching television. So I put all my helmets in a box and asked Johnny to help me carry them down to the car. It was a tough job, and it was hot outside, so I gave him about $3,500.
Manziel: I never knew carrying things paid so well.
Kevin Sumlin, A&M Head Football Coach: Johnny likes writing his name on things. He always has. I can’t tell you how many things in our practice facility have his name on them. We’re constantly washing ink off of stuff. It’s kind of annoying.
Jason Gardner, college roommate: Once he wrote his name on my face with a sharpie while I was sleeping. I was so mad.
Holdman: Profiting from any use of a student’s likeness is a violation of NCAA rules, so we had to look into it.
Soon reports surfaced that Manziel had also signed helmets and mini-helmets in a hotel room at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut while there for a Walter Camp Football Foundation Event.
Steven Bridges, owner, “Autograph City”: I was just hanging out and counting my helmets and mini-helmets when my friend came to the door. He was like, “Hey, this is my friend Johnny.” I asked Johnny not to touch anything but he grabbed a pen and just started writing all over everything. What a jerk.
Manziel: Some of the helmets were tiny. I guess they were helmets for babies. That’s hilarious.
Bridges: He couldn’t stop talking about babies playing football, and how weird that would be. Then he asked me if I wanted him to carry everything to my car, he’d do it for $7,500. I thought that was steep, but it was about fourteen floors down. You know, a lot of carrying.
Manziel: (laughing) If this football thing doesn’t work out, I am going to open a business carrying things. You wouldn’t believe how much you can make.
Holdman: There was some cell phone footage of this event received by ESPN and shared with us. It’s grainy but we are looking into it.
Multiple sources began to step forward alleging knowledge of payment for Manziel’s autograph.
John Goldstein, A&M fan: My daughter Madison drew a picture of him that everyone in the family thought was really cute. I saw Johnny at Costco, ran out to the car and got it and asked him to sign it. Then my daughter shared some of her popcorn with him and he ate it.
Holdman: We are not looking into the signing of Mr. Goldstein’s daughter’s photo. The image does not bear a resemblance to Manziel and the “football” is green. Also, the signature looks like it says “Jommy Mangeel.” It is not under investigation.
Manziel: That guy I met at Costco, I helped him lift one of those big tubs of detergent into his cart and he didn’t even pay me. His kid just gave me some popcorn. What a cheapskate. Cute kid, though.
Drew Tieman, autograph broker: He was writing his name on some jerseys for me and I asked him to add a special inscription. That inscription was: “This is really my, Johnny Manziel’s, signature,” but he wouldn’t do it.
Manziel: Something seemed strange about that, you know? He invited me over to his house and didn’t even have anything he needed moved. What a weirdo.
Holdman: If Manziel is found to have received money from signing his autograph, both he and Texas A&M University may face penalties.
Manziel: Man, I never knew how heavy sports memorabilia is. It’s really heavy. I can see why people need help with it. I mean, I’ve carried one jersey and one helmet before, but a whole box of them weighs more than you’d think.
Sumlin: I don’t know if these allegations are true, but I can tell you two things about that kid. One, Johnny Manziel likes writing his name on things; and two, he’s one of the most helpful human beings I’ve ever coached.
Manziel: (to investigator) Sorry bro, while we were talking I wrote my name on this table. I wasn’t thinking. You need some help moving it? I’m just kidding. But seriously. Do you? I’m really strong, and really good at it.