The Johnny Football express came to an abrupt halt Sunday night, but not because the Texas A&M quarterback hit the brakes. This time, the Aggies did it for him.
A day after news broke that the NCAA is investigating whether Manziel violated its bylaws by accepting payment for autographed memorabilia, Texas A&M apparently pulled Manziel from a list of Aggies scheduled for media availability Monday.
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Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News wrote on Twitter Monday morning that Manziel was not among the three Aggies players scheduled to speak with the media, even though he was listed in an email last week. Carlton reports that Mike Evans, Toney Hurd Jr., and Ben Malena will speak instead.
It's really the only choice Manziel has given his school. It was one thing to allow Manziel to fend for himself at SEC Media Days about his embarrassing exit from the Manning Passing Academy last month. That could have been a learning experience.
This is far more serious business.
An NCAA institution can't have a 20-year-old, particularly one prone to talking (or tweeting) before thinking, represent himself or the school in the midst of an investigation. Far too much is at stake.
But media appearances aren't all that's been put on hold.
Until Texas A&M and the NCAA have their collective arms around this case, Manziel's immediate future as an Aggie is in limbo, as well. The Rice Owls come to College Station in 26 days for Texas A&M's season opener, and TAMU isn't likely to clear him to play unless it's satisfied that no NCAA rules were violated. Hence, a 26-day clock has begun ticking on whether Johnny Football will break the Aggies' first huddle.
About the only thing not on hold for Manziel at the moment is his practice status. As the Aggies open camp Monday, the Heisman Trophy winner is expected to be back on the field. Under NCAA rules, players being investigated by the NCAA are permitted to practice without risking their eligibility.
So Johnny Football still appears set to take the field. But will coach Kevin Sumlin commit valuable practice reps this month to a player who might not be available in four weeks when it begins to matter?