Dez Bryant makes it clear he does not want to see Johnny Manziel suspended. But the Cowboys receiver also answered “hell yeah” when asked if he would be angry with the NCAA if it allows the Texas A&M quarterback to play the entire 2013 season.
“I don’t want anything to happen to Manziel, I promise. I don’t want anything to happen to him,” Bryant said Tuesday. “I just want them to know what they’re doing is not right. That’s all they need to know, and they need to understand that. Seriously, they really do.”
Bryant played only three games in 2009 before being suspended for the year for lying to NCAA investigators about his relationship with Deion Sanders. His dinner with Sanders did not violate NCAA rules, and Bryant insists he never accepted improper benefits.
The former Oklahoma State All-American entered the NFL Draft in 2010, where the Cowboys selected him in the first round.
“I did lie,” Bryant said. “I came back and I told the truth, and they suspended me indefinitely. The way the [NCAA investigator] was talking to me was like I did something wrong. I didn’t know it was OK for me to go to someone’s house …so I got scared and I lied. I feel like if anybody else was in my position, they probably would have done the same.”
The NCAA is investigating whether Manziel violated rules by being paid for signing hundreds of autographs. ESPN’s Outside the Lines has alleged that Manziel had at least six autograph sessions for dealers, with the Heisman Trophy winner accepting $7,500 from at least one.
Former Georgia receiver A.J. Green was suspended four games in 2010 for selling his bowl jersey for $1,000. Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was suspended along with four teammates for the first five games in 2011 for trading signed memorabilia for tattoos. Pryor entered the NFL’s supplemental draft in 2011 instead.
NCAA athletes can’t profit from their likenesses under bylaw 18.104.22.168, a rule Bryant and other critics argue should be scrapped.
“[Manziel] should be able to sign as many autographs and make as much money as he wants because it’s his name,” Bryant said. “I feel like he’s the one who created it. He should be able to do [with it] whatever he feels as long as it’s legal, and I don’t think there’s anything illegal about signing a picture of yourself and making money off it. Shoot, the NCAA is making money off of it when they’re selling those No. 2 shirts. Why can’t he make a little bit of money off of it?”
Bryant would not address whether he ever has considered a lawsuit against the NCAA. But he wants the rules changed, and he hopes college players one day are compensated for the profits and the glory they bring to their schools, their coaches and the NCAA.
Manziel’s Heisman translated into $37 million in media exposure for A&M, a study by the school found. The school’s stadium, Kyle Field, will undergo a $450 million renovation that will raise the capacity to 102,500, and Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin received an extension and a raise to $3.1 million a season.
Until earlier this week — after a Twitter campaign by college basketball analyst Jay Bilas — the NCAA sold replica jerseys of its star players.
Manziel, though, and other star players can’t profit from their names.
“It’s just hard,” Bryant said. “Sometimes the training table is just not good enough.”
Bryant, 24, is angry with the bureaucracy and the hypocrisy of the NCAA, which is why he will be “mad” if Manziel isn’t suspended.
“I will be mad more at the NCAA on how they do things,” Bryant said. “I just feel like it’s not fair. This is something I have no problem talking about because I feel like somebody needs to say something and let it be known how they treat people is not right.”