Two key mysteries surround the whirlwind news that the NCAA is investigating Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel because he may have profited from mass autograph signing sessions with memorabilia dealers:
1) Why would a kid whose family is reportedly flush with Texas oil money risk three of his four years of college eligibility over a few thousand bucks?
2) Why would memorabilia dealers risk their reputations for protecting student-athletes, who aren't allowed to accept money from them, just to rat out Johnny Football?
The first question may never be fully answered. But some light was shed on the second question today.
Autograph dealer Rob Rudolph indicated to cbssports.com's Bruce Feldman that the relationship between the Manziel camp and a lot of autograph dealers went sour when eBay suspended many of them for selling items bearing Manziel's patented nickname, "Johnny Football."
"If there's anybody who has an ax to grind, pick any of those people," Rudolph told the web site.
According to Rudolph, some 500 dealers lost eBay listings that were never autographed. The phrase 'Johnny Football' was enough for eBay to remove the listings, and suspend offenders for two weeks without so much as a warning. One could argue that the dealers should have had more of an issue with eBay for suspending them without giving them an opportunity to pull the items themselves. But any dealer who didn't care to distinguish between Manziel's move to patent the nickname and eBay's show of deference to that patent might be a viable candidate to deliver some payback.