Johnny Manziel on Thursday admitted to accepting up to $33,000 for signing autographs during his redshirt freshman year at Texas A&M — after he had already won the Heisman Trophy.
The former Texas A&M quarterback, in an interview with Barstool Sports, said he accepted deals from two different men to sign thousands of autographs. Manziel was in Miami at the time for the 2013 BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame.
“This guy comes up behind me and was like, ‘Yo, how would you want to make three grand?’ I turn around, I’m like, ‘F— yeah, bro’. I got like 65 bucks in my bank account. I’m waiting on that beginning of the month January stipend check,” Manziel told Barstool. “So I take this guy’s number down, we’re doing it all sneaky, we don’t want to get caught. We’re trying to to learn from everybody else who got caught.”
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Manziel said he went to the man’s condo, where he was paid $3,000 to sign 10,000 autographs — 30 cents per autograph. While there, Manziel said another man approached him to tell him he was being ripped off, offering him the number of someone who would pay him $30,000.
“I’m like, ‘F— yeah man.’ I’m making ($3,000) then ($30,000),” Manziel said. “So this guy is pretty much like, ‘All right, go to this room at the Fontainebleau. All the stuff will be in there laid out, and when you’re done, just send me a picture of all of it, I’ll give you the code to the safe and the money will be in there.’”
Manziel said he wasn’t worried about the NCAA repealing the stats from his 2012 Heisman campaign, or Texas A&M’s 9-4 record, adding that he hadn’t accepted any money prior to winning college football’s most prestigious individual award. The NCAA generally has a four-year statute of limitations, meaning Manziel’s admission will not result in any punishment for A&M.
Here’s the full video of Manziel explaining the situation (warning: explicit language used):
At the time, the NCAA investigated that Manziel had been paid for signing up to 4,400 autographs, including in South Florida. The organization found that, while Manziel did violate name image and likeness rules at the time, he didn’t receive money from the signings. He was suspended for the first half of the Aggies’ season opener vs. Rice, which they won 52-31.
Manziel in 2012 became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman, throwing for 3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also added 1,410 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. The next year, he passed for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, rushing for 759 yards and nine scores.
Manziel entered the 2014 NFL Draft following his redshirt sophomore season, becoming the 22nd overall pick to the Cleveland Browns, where he was paid legally for playing. Even so:
“I got to make somewhat of a decent living in college,” Manziel said.