Reports that payments were arranged for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel to autograph memorabilia in South Florida the week of the BCS National Championship Game took a new turn Monday morning.
ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that another autograph dealer, not the one alleged to have arranged a five-figure sum for Manziel in January, claims he was told during the 2012 season by Manziel's personal assistant, Nate Fitch, that Manziel's signature was no longer going to be free.
According to the dealer, who was not named in Schad's story, Manziel signed items for him without payment during two autograph sessions, the first of which was at TAMU's team hotel the night before Manziel and the Aggies upset No. 1-ranked Alabama. It is unclear from the story whether Fitch's alleged request for payment happened before or after those sessions took place. As with Sunday's story by ESPN's "Outside the Lines," there is again no direct allegation that Manziel himself received any payments.
The totality of the allegations, however, looks bleak as the Aggies commence fall camp with their star quarterback's eligibility in question. The dealer told Schad he has declined six calls from the NCAA. He also provided Schad with what is called a "proof pic," used by dealers as a way of verifying that signatures are legitimate. Schad posted the photo on twitter:
Alleged Johnny Manziel autograph "proof picture" broker claims he shot pic.twitter.com/RR7oExSp4oâ Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 5, 2013
Various Texas A&M players are expected to be made available to the media today as the Aggies begin fall practice. Manziel is expected to participate, but not speak to media.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.