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Johnny Manziel Can Afford Courtside Seats, But it Shouldn’t Be an Issue

At least Manziel is managing to find one way to benefit from his talent.

Tonight, Heisman Award-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was spotted by TNT sitting courtside in Dallas to see the Miami Heat:

“How does a college kid get courtside seats to a Mavs game? Those are expensive seats,” Steve Kerr said gravely, wondering how such a good kid went bad as if Manziel had been caught stealing laptops.

Of course, Darren Rovell was ON IT:

That “one guy” told Rovell he was selling tickets for $1,250 matters about as much as what I had for lunch. (In case I piqued your curiosity, I had turkey burger tacos doused in enough Frank’s Red Hot that I couldn’t tell it wasn’t beef.) There’s usually a pretty sizable spread between the prices that scalpers say they are charging and the amount tickets actually exchange hands for. Moreover, if Manziel paid face value for the tickets himself, he complied with NCAA regulations. He’s not somehow obligated to pay whatever price that Darren Rovell says “one guy” is charging.

(At least Rovell didn’t act like Kerr and get all sanctimonious about it. He just reported facts, even if those facts seemed to imply that Manziel violated unjust rules.)

How might Manziel have afforded to buy himself an expensive birthday present?

THAT’S HOW A COLLEGE KID CAN AFFORD EXPENSIVE SEATS, STEVE KERR. Another mystery solved by Scooby Doo and this one didn’t even involve ghosts or real estate fraud.

Whether or not Manziel bought the ticket himself and how he got the money to do so aren’t even the right questions. Instead, people should be asking why the fuck this actually matters.

Johnny Manziel has a marketable skillset that scores of adults profited from over the past year. They will continue to do so for at least the next one while Manziel cannot “legally” earn one red cent for his work. I thought this was America.

(I put “legally” in quotes because despite how badly the NCAA would like it to be the case, their made-up rules are not actually the law.)

As I’ve written before, Max Kellerman had the most American solution to correct the NCAA’s longstanding system of indentured servitude: players should be allowed to benefit from their likenesses. They should be able to monetize their talent by signing autographs, attending corporate events, or appearing in commercials for anybody who will pay them for their time. Yes, this would lead to some teammates making more than others. Schools with wealthier boosters would gain an edge on the competition. This already happens on the black market. Anybody who disagrees is a liar or delusional. (Or both.)

Also, this proposed system is the way America works for everybody else. Indispensably talented employees in profitable industries are valuable and get compensated as such. If you don’t like it, you can get out.

This scenario could even be enacted in a manner such that academic institutions do not have to draw resources away from classes, other sports, or even their administrators’ own pockets. Who gets hurt if some car wash titan in Alabama wants to spend thousands of dollars to help make sure his alma mater continues to have a running faucet of NFL-ready defensive linemen?

The only people who believe that the NCAA system should remain as it is are those who currently profit from it.

We shouldn’t have to keep talking about this. Yes, Manziel receives a free education at Texas A&M, where in-state tuition for business students (Manziel’s majorcosts $4,665.30 per semester. This is not anywhere close to his market value. If Johnny Football were a free agent and other schools and their boosters were allowed to bid freely for his services, he could conceivably command a guaranteed contract worth several million dollars.

Don’t think so?

If you had your pick for next season and next season only, which would you prefer: Johnny Manziel and average SEC coach, or Bret Bielema and an average SEC quarterback?

Even if you picked Bielema, you had to think about it for a minute, and he’s making over $3 million per year at Arkansas.

(Not that you care, but I’d pick Manziel 11 times out of 10.)

There’s probably very little you and I can do about this, but we should all agree that each time we hear somebody like Steve Kerr sound SHOCKED and APPALLED that a COLLEGE KID could afford expensive seats, we should bring more shame upon the messenger than those who may or may not be violating arbitrary, un-American rules.

UPDATE: Jason Lisk of The Big Lead follows up with comments from TNT and Kerr a few minutes later:

Craig Sager: “We are in a 30 point game, time to clarify what could be a sticky situation. Johnny Manziel’s phone is getting inundated by text messages and tweets from friends and people wondering about a comment made by Steve Kerr about how he got these seats. Well, everything is legit. This is a birthday present that he bought for himself back on December 6th. He’s a huge basketball fan. He loves LeBron James, has never seen him in person. So he has a birthday present that he purchased the ticket to come to the game, get the best seats he could possibly buy, and he is here to watch LeBron James, he practiced today in College Station getting ready for the Cotton Bowl, two and a half hour drive, he will be back at practice tomorrow, everything is legit.”

Steve Kerr: “Is sarcasm not understood by folks on Twitter, or it just went right by people I guess? Just trying to have a little fun.”

Steve Kerr, who is a professional broadcaster, either conveyed the wrong tone when he was speaking about Manziel for the first time – and spoke patronizingly by accident – or he is the one who does not understand sarcasm. Watch the clip again. He directly implied that some SEC booster “illegally” paid for Manziel’s seats. Tape don’t lie.

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