For using his nimble fingers, Johnny Manziel got his hand slapped.
Actually, he got a half-serving of Rice and and a mandate for “Johnny to be good.”
In a joint agreement between the NCAA and Texas A&M, the Heisman Trophy winner’s “punishment” for allegedly selling his autographs is to sit out the first half of the season opener against Rice.
Some have pointed out that Rice was the real loser, having to face a well-rested Manziel the second half, probably already trailing.
But Manziel has proven to be as elusive in legalities as he is on the field. He’s a scrambler who can turn a good play into a bad play — or at least mitigate lost yardage.
We can sorta understand the Aggie logic. If any substantive evidence surfaces, Texas A&M is on record as cooperating with the NCAA.
The NCAA is the Aggie joke. It agreed to deal out a token punishment with no clear evidence of wrongdoing. Manziel was sorta innocent because he was not proven guilty — sort of.
One can make the assumption that a celebrity doesn’t sign seemingly bazillions of autographs for nothing. But, as many observers pointed out when the case became one of the major items of discussion in preseason, the charges would be difficult to prove without documentation and a clear paper trail.
Any paper trail was non-existent or was written in disappearing ink. “Cash only” can take care of a lot of complications.
So, Johnny is grounded for a half for something the NCAA investigators admit they can’t prove he did.
And this was a compromise?
What was the punishment on the table — having Johnny write 500 times of the giant Dry-Erase board, “I will not sign autographs for money?”
It’s like grounding a youngster by making him watch only the last half of the movie.
It’s like grounding a teenager with only a half-tank of gas in his car rather than a full tank.
When I was growing up, I wished I could have tried that approach on my parents. Since there was no clear, convincing evidence that I had spit on my sister, I just get to miss half the meal — which logically meant I could skip the veggies and go straight to dessert.
Wonder if the Texas A&M will allow the Rice band, known for its raucous satirical performances, to perform at halftime at Kyle Field for the Manziel game.
If so, I’m sure it would be a signature performance.
And here’s the irony. Texas A&M, a highly respected institution for its meticulous ability to operate inside the lines, has maneuvered pretty well outside of them. And the NCAA, giant institution with the super-sized rulebook to prevent questionable activity outside the lines, has found itself in another muddle inside of them.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 for email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd)