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Joe Flacco: Johnny Manziel is becoming my favorite player in college football

Johnny ManzielJohnny Manziel is one of the most polarizing figures in sports, but he faces more criticism than praise. The Texas A&M star doesn’t exactly work diligently to keep a low profile, so he opens himself up most of it. However, Manziel can sleep well tonight knowing that he has a big fan in Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

Flacco told USA Today Sports over the weekend that Manziel is one of his favorite players.

“Being hated is not a bad thing. … I don’t know if I’ll be too popular after (saying) this: I (didn’t) know how I really felt about Johnny Manziel,” Flacco said. “But I feel like now that everybody hates him, he’s quickly becoming my favorite player in college football.”

Flacco was then asked if he intends to break out a celebration on Thursday that is similar to the money symbol Manziel made during a win over Rice. You know what his answer to that was.

“No, I’m not going do anything,” Flacco said. “It will all be up here (taps his temple).  And I’ll keep it all up here. … I’m not going to show anything outwardly.”

Manziel and Flacco are nothing like one another, which makes Flacco’s admiration for the Heisman Trophy winner intriguing. Flacco has been described as boring by his own father, whereas Manziel’s dad has expressed concern that Johnny could have an ugly unraveling. Opposites attract, I suppose.

In reality, Flacco probably feels that same way about Manziel that Aaron Rodgers said he feels. As a Super Bowl MVP, Flacco understands the type of scrutiny that comes along with being a quarterback in the spotlight. Manziel doesn’t handle the situation as well as he could, but Flacco obviously isn’t fazed by it.

Johnny Manziel has new Drake OVO wrist tattoo

Johnny Manziel Drake OVO wrist tattoo

Looks like Johnny Manziel is even closer to rapper Drake than some of us realized.

We knew that Manziel was a big Drake fan, but he made his allegiance to the Canadian rapper permanent by getting “OVO” tattooed on his inner wright wrist this offseason. OVO stands for “October’s Very Own,” which is Drake’s birthday month and the name of his recording label.

The new wrist tattoo was visible on Saturday during Texas A&M’s 52-31 season-opening win against Rice.

[Related: Johnny Manziel hand gesture is for Drake's Topszn Regime]

Manziel has been wearing Drake’s OVO gear for several months and called meeting the rapper the highlight of his offseason. When he returned to Twitter in April after a brief self-imposed ban, he did so by quoting Drake lyrics. He also says he learned the most from Drake and felt he related most closely to the rapper during his tumultuous offseason.

The relationship goes two ways; Drake gave Manziel props for the way he handled SEC Media Day in August.

Below are a few more looks at the Johnny Manziel wrist tattoo:

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Johnny Manziel trash talks with autograph symbol, makes money gesture (Video)

Johnny-Manziel-autograph-symbolJohnny Manziel is officially back, folks. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner served his suspension in the first half of Texas A&M’s game against Rice before returning with a bang. On his second possession of the game, Manziel threw strike to Mike Evans for a 23-yard touchdown. Prior to that, he used his autograph scandal as a form of trash talk.

As you can see from the video above, Manziel appeared to make an autograph gesture while yapping at a Rice player. We don’t know for sure if that’s what he was doing, but I wouldn’t doubt if a Rice player made a sarcastic remark about the scandal and that was Manziel’s way of responding. He also did this after throwing a touchdown:

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Report: Johnny Manziel among many stars tied to autograph brokers

Johnny ManzielJohnny Manziel was suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s season-opening game against Rice on Saturday for his role in an autograph signing scandal.

Multiple reports indicated that the Heisman Trophy winner was paid to sign autographs for brokers who later sold the merchandise. The NCAA investigated the matter and spoke with Manziel, who told them he was not paid. As a result, the NCAA and A&M agreed on the half-game suspension.

Though the NCAA arrived at the light suspension because they could not find evidence that the quarterback was paid, the real reason they may have let Manziel off easily is because they did not want the autograph controversy to lead to a much larger scandal.

John P. Lopez of Sports Radio 610 in Houston reports that while investigating the Manziel matter, the NCAA learned that the quarterback was one of many star collegiate athletes with ties to the autograph brokers. Lopez says this “client list” included top players from many of the top conferences since 2004, though the nature of the players’ relationship with the brokers is unclear.

The rationale behind Lopez’s report is that had the NCAA suspended Manziel based on his ties to the brokers, they would have to do the same for all other players on the “client list.” The NCAA has the ability to retroactively rule players ineligible, which could have led to a historical mess of the organization vacating games and accomplishments.

If Lopez’s report is accurate, then that means the NCAA didn’t want the equivalent of a Biogenesis scandal on their hands, where they would have been forced to investigate a list and dole out punishments as they saw fit.

No matter how you look at it, Manziel got off easily, and the reason given for the half-game suspension — that others used him to make money — doesn’t even make sense.

Johnny Manziel reportedly met with NCAA for six hours

johnny manziel cashThe Johnny Manziel autograph saga may be coming close to being resolved, at least from the NCAA’s perspective.

ESPN’s Travis Haney reports that the NCAA met with Manziel for six hours on the Texas A&M campus Sunday to question the Heisman Trophy winner about reports that he was paid to autograph sports memorabilia.

Four separate reports have implicated Manziel in the “scandal.” Two autograph brokers have said they paid the Texas A&M quarterback to sign autographs for them. A third broker says Manziel’s assistant Nate Finch asked for money for Manziel to sign. A fourth broker says Manziel signed for him, with the implication being that the athlete was paid.

It’s against NCAA rules for a player to receive money for signing autographs, and Manziel could be suspended the entire season if the NCAA finds proof that he accepted money. The NCAA could ask to review Manziel’s bank statements, but without proof of acceptance of payment, it would be difficult for them to suspend him.

A&M officials reportedly are not planning to preemptively sit Manziel for fear that he could later be ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The school opens up its football season on Saturday against Rice.

Aaron Murray named to All-SEC first team over Johnny Manziel in coaches poll

Aaron-Murray-GeorgiaNot only was Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel the best player in the SEC last year, he was the best player in all of college football. Manziel capped off an incredible season by becoming the first ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Apparently there are plenty of people who feel Johnny Football is due for a regression.

On Thursday, SEC coaches named Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to the first-team All-SEC squad and Manziel to the second. Murray’s phenomenal play over the past few seasons has been overshadowed by Alabama’s dominance and Manziel emerging as one of the most polarizing figures in sports.

Last year, Murray became the first ever SEC quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. His 95 career touchdown passes are just 20 shy of the SEC record, so he should surpass that mark with ease if healthy this season. He also needs only 1,438 more passing yards to become the conference’s all-time leader in that category.

Of course, Manziel’s turbulent offseason may have helped Murray land the top spot. The NCAA is currently investigating a number of autograph signings that Manziel was allegedly involved in and may have taken money for, so the possibility of him being suspended remains intact.

Between the autograph scandal and the rumors about Manziel out partying before he was sent home from the Manning camp, it makes sense that the coaches are more confident in Murray heading into 2013. It isn’t difficult to make the argument that the Georgia quarterback seems more focused.

NCAA could suspend Johnny Manziel two games in compromise scenario

Johnny Manziel OVO DrakeThe best case scenario for Johnny Manziel is that the NCAA finds no concrete evidence that links him to accepting money in exchange for autographs. In order for Manziel to be suspended for any significant period of time, investigators would have to find a paper trail connecting him to autograph brokers.

However, there is also the possibility that Manziel and the NCAA could reach some sort of compromise — a plea deal so the speak. USA Today spoke with John Infante, a former university compliance officer and founder of The Bylaw Blog, earlier this week and he speculated that Manziel could be given a reduced suspension in exchange for information.

The idea would be to punish Manziel without derailing Texas A&M’s entire season. If he missed two games, he would return in time for the Aggies’ big showdown against Alabama on Sept. 14. By offering Manziel “limited immunity,” the NCAA would require him to provide information on how the autograph process worked so they have a better idea of how to prevent it in the future.

“You can say (Manziel) ‘admitted to it, he gave us information and helped the larger effort, so we wanted to send the message that we were rewarding him’ for helping,” Infante explained.

Infante’s scenario remains unlikely, but it would make sense on some level. He pointed out how Auburn’s situation with Cam Newton in 2010 made the NCAA look bad since everyone assumed Newton was guilty but the circumstantial evidence was insufficient.

The accusations against Manziel are piling up by the day. One broker even listed specifics about how much he allegedly paid Manziel, but NCAA investigators still have their work cut out for them. Unless someone can find the actual money that was exchanged, Manziel may have little to worry about.