Ahead of the Curve
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Who'd a' thunk?  Johnny Manziel, that ne'er-do-well, pigskin passing, party-animal, all of a sudden being held-up as the face of fiscal fairness in college sport?

Kinda' crazy...and about as likely to fly with fans & college cufflinks as Riley Cooper's statement that he's "not the type of person" to use a racial slur.  Good to be hopeful.

But that's just what many mainstream sport-scribes are trying to sell their readership this past week in the midst of Manziel's Pen-gate money-grab.

Johnny Iconoclast?  Oh brother.

Johnny Victim?  Oh Sister.

Posing the 2012 Heisman winner's off-field actions as an inevitable by-product of the NCAA's draconian rules on amateurism, all the while ignoring, in some weird, Machiavellian-like twist (the ends justify the means), how Johnny got where Johnny is (autograph investigation), exceeds the margins of credibility.

There's a right way, and there's a wrong way to effect a change in how of the immense wealth generated by college athletics might be re-distributed.

Ed O'Bannon et al's 2009 lawsuit pending against the NCAA and co-defendants EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co., is doing it the right way, seeking to gain a share of profits made on their names & images by alleging antitrust violations.

I make no judgment as to whether or not O'Bannon's complaint is grounded in persuasive legal argument or has the luxury of ethical / moral advancement.  I'd only go as far as to say Ed's complaint would appear to be meritorious, as it's not been dismissed.

Suffice to say, O'Bannon entered the fray with what at minimum is required of one who seeks to alter the status quo: clean hands.  As for Manziel, his fingers are covered in ink and it's not coming off any time soon.  No "silk hat" (in prose) will change that status.

It's a long shot, but Ed O'Bannon just might prove to be the Curt Flood of college athletics.  Let's hope Johnny Manziel doesn't prove to be it's Pete Rose.

Steven Keys

Brass Tacks

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