Johnny Manziel came under fire recently for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars for autographing roughly 300 items in a Miami hotel during the weekend of the BCS national championship game. According to a new ESPN Outside the Lines report, however, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has put pen to paper (and helmet, poster, schedule or whatever else) on more than 4,400 items in total.
Florida-based autograph dealer Kevin Freistat helped him make it happen, again, allegedly.
A source with knowledge of the situation has reportedly come forward stating that Manziel signed at least 1,500 items in each of the Aggies’ signal-caller’s last two closed-door signing sessions.
In total, the new reports bring Manziel’s allegedly illegal signing occasions up to six. Those six different signings were held for three different autograph brokers in three states, all in less than a month.
One person who was at one of the signings claims one of the autograph brokers, Drew Tieman, paid JSA, an authentication company, $10,000 to confirm the authenticity of 1,100 Manziel autographs.
As with all the other recent reports regarding Manziel’s autographs, however, no money has been found in terms of evidence against the quarterback. Should money wind up being directly tied to him, Johnny Football will be found in violation of NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52, which explicitly prohibits players from accepting money for promoting or advertising the commercial sale of a product or service.
What is unique to this new report – aside from the new signings themselves, of course – is the actual study of the signatures in question. Whereas quickly scribbled names (especially those signed in a hurry, such as for a child in passing or during a fan event) tend to suffer from degrees of variance, Manziel’s seem to be uniform. Almost uncannily so.
“With college guys, you’ll often see different color pens, varying penmanship, autographs signed in different places on a photo,” said Sean Morgan, who owns a sports marketing and memorabilia company called Famous Ink that he says doesn’t buy or sell autographs of current college players. “With Johnny, it’s all the same.”
Yet again, the evidence against Manziel himself would seem to be circumstantial. However, with each passing day, and each new report, the young superstar seems to find himself staring at a larger and larger pile of merchandise.
All of which seem to be increasingly stacked against him.