So the NCAA finally came to a decision on Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.
It seems he is guilty of something, yet the NCAA doesn’t really have proof of it, so they compromised and suspended him for one-half of one game. Kind of silly if you ask me. Either Manziel took money to sign autographs or he didn’t. Either he should be suspended like people who have committed the same transgression (say Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor) or he shouldn’t. Taking a half measure against him and suspending him for half a game against an opponent like Rice (against whom, realistically, he probably would have only played a half anyway) just further illustrates the ridiculousness of the NCAA and their rules committee. In essence they are saying, “we know you did something wrong, but we can’t actually prove it. So here’s a slap on the wrist.” I’m not sure what any of it proves, but I suppose it closes the case and everyone can move on. (Unless, of course, the NCAA finally gets the evidence they now lack. If that ever happens you can rest assured they’ll be back on the case.)
Speaking of the NCAA, the season kicks off this weekend and there are actually a couple good matchups on tap including No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson and No. 12 LSU at No. 20 TCU. My guess is the first game will be a lot more competitive than the latter. TCU might be ranked in the top 25, but there’s a world of difference between the football they play and the SEC. Still, if you’re a fan of top 25 matchups you have to feel good about the fact you’ll have a couple games to watch at a time when most NCAA powerhouses are taking advantage of weaker competition.
The NFL agreed to pay close to $800 million to former players who might be victims of head trauma. It is sort of a milestone for the league as they are now admitting their product is bad for the human body and taking steps to compensate those men who are now suffering a lifetime of maladies after leaving the game. I think what’s interesting about this is not the fact the NFL is paying out all that money but, instead, what will it do next? Are they going to change the way the game’s played so players have fewer head injuries? Will they spend the money to develop a helmet that better protects a player’s brain? At this point there’s no telling, but the way the NFL reacts to and deals with concussions over the next few years will be very telling about the longevity of its league. As more head injuries continue to pile up, not just in the NFL, but in college and at the lower levels of the game (high school and beyond) more and more people will join the ranks of those who are calling for either changing the game or banishing it all together. This means more parents will quit letting their children play football, which will cut down on the talent pool and may, eventually, lead to the country finding a new national pastime.