Johnny Football is reaching such a level of fame that I sometimes forget that his real name is Johnny Manziel (if he flops and becomes an NFL backup, will we still call him Johnny Football?). You would probably believe it if he eradicated world poverty or starvation or made the Redskins stop being racist or destroyed the NCAA.
Wait, Johnny Manziel may have actually just destroyed the NCAA. Seriously. He revealed a loophole that may allow college football players to be paid, within NCAA rules.
Last week Manziel’s corporation, JMan2 Enterprises — can you imagine the Christmas parties? — filed a lawsuit against a man who was selling “Johnny Football” t-shirts. While Manziel can’t profit off the direct sale of t-shirts featuring his name or likeness, the NCAA has ruled that he can trademark the phrase and protect his property interest from being infringed upon…
(And) Manziel can’t directly profit off the sale of licensed products featuring his likeness, but he can pocket any proceeds that arise from a trademark lawsuit. Which is basically the same thing.
Raising this interesting question, what’s to keep a bunch of Texas A&M boosters from intentionally infringing on Manziel’s trademark, being sued for doing so, and then settling out of court for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal payments to Manziel?
In other words, isn’t this ruling a license for boosters to legally pay Manziel to play college football?
Travis suggests that every star player should do this and have a booster agree to conspire and later settle with them.
We can’t be sure that boosters would actually be willing to do this, but it’s possible. I mean, the booster would either have to be acting secretly on the school’s behalf (which seems risky since this would be so public), or defy the school’s wishes, in which case they’d probably be threatened.
But why did the NCAA recently rule that Manziel and others can profit from legal action? Well, Travis suggests that the NCAA actually created this embarrassing loophole, because of a four-year old lawsuit by the players against the NCAA and EA Sports. Basically, the players want to get paid for being showcased in a massively-popular video game. Travis thinks the NCAA is nervous that they’ll have to settle, so they created a loophole.
If the NCAA ends up settling this case — which it would likely do if the case is certified as a class action — then those payments would violate NCAA rules, rendering every current player ineligible under NCAA rules. Yep, the NCAA would become the greatest infringer of NCAA rules in the history of amateur athletics. What a fitting ending to the organization.
So what does the NCAA do to avoid this rule violation? It does what all dishonest dictatorships do, it creates an exception to the rules — payments resulting from lawsuits seeking to protect trademarks or likenesses do not violate NCAA rules on improper benefits.
So, the NCAA would break its own rule, publicly and overtly, if it settled. The loophole allows them to settle, within the rules. But it also creates a new loophole that players can potentially exploit (though it will likely need the cooperation of boosters).
To sum up, the NCAA is trying to save its ass, but might be digging its own grave. Or at least making itself look really dumb. And players may get some money. This is very exciting. Hopefully, it amounts to something.
Travis says that “Johnny Manziel just killed the NCAA.” That may be an exaggeration, but I really, really hope it’s not.