When Johnny Manziel's family copyrighted the term "Johnny Football," I thought it was an ingenious move. He could theoretically sue people who used the term and violated the copyright, and it was almost a loophole that could have allowed him to get paid for being one of college football's greatest players.
On the flip side, it apparently was quite inconvenient for a bunch of memorabilia dealers on eBay, whose accounts got suspended
because they had the term "Johnny Football" in their auction items.
Later, when there was a chance to get back at Manziel by notifying the NCAA of potential violations, these guys apparently jumped right on it, and that's why ESPN has a video that might show Manziel entering a room where he received money for signing autographs, which would be in direct violation of NCAA rules and could threaten his eligibility.
It's only a rumor so far, but some folks were wondering why anyone would want to leak the news of Manziel taking money for autographs, since the only people who knew about it were people who would benefit from selling the autographs.
Memorabilia seller Rob Rudolph points out that there are a few guys who might have an ax to grind against Manziel, himself included.
"When his family filed to patent his name, 'Johnny Football,' all of us dealers, and I'm talking like 500 of us, had items on eBay related to Johnny Manziel. They weren't necessarily signed by him. I had Heisman programs from where he won the Heisman. So on that listing it would say, 'Johnny Manziel, Johnny Football, Texas A&M Heisman Program.' eBay swiped across the country and took all of those items down. All of 'em. And, in addition to that, they banned everyone who had done it for two weeks. No prior warning or nothing. I had 400 items up. I had six or eight related to Manziel and they pulled all of 'em. I called [eBay]. I said, 'I've never had any trouble on eBay whatsoever.' They said, 'This is a legal thing and you violated a legal code so you're suspended for two weeks.' For me, I'm small time. That was an irritating thing because for two weeks, I couldn't sell anything. I am quite sure for people whose livelihood are this business, that was crippling. If there's anybody who has an ax to grind, pick any of those people."
So that explains how the word may have gotten out. But the question remains... is it enough evidence to actually stick?