Johnny Football and Amateurism

I recently examined the trademark law issues involved with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, and his nickname “Johnny Football.”

Warren Zola looked at the big picture over at the Sports Law Blog, weighing the rights held by Texas A&M and Manziel. Here’s an excerpt:

1. Texas A&M plays in the 2013 Cotton Bowl on January 4th v. Oklahoma.
a. Payout to University is projected to be $ 7.35M.
b. Manziel, and everyone on a team playing in a post-season bowl game, are allowed to receive gifts up to $550 in cash value per NCAA rules.

Click to read Zola’s post in its entirety.

Texas A&M is reportedly helping Manziel trademark “Johnny Football”, which is both admirable and interesting from a NCAA perspective (according to NCAA bylaws schools may help a student-athlete defend against unauthorized use of his or her likeness, but a trademark application appears to be an offensive move).

Nevertheless, the value of the “Johnny Football” mark may never be higher than it is today.  There are no guarantees in life, but winning the Heisman does not necessarily predict future success as a professional, especially for quarterbacks (check out this interesting piece by Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post).  By the time that Manziel can profit from the use of his image, that image may not be nearly as marketable as it is today.


  1. […] situation again highlighted the absurdity of the NCAA’s amateurism rules.  Nevertheless, nothing is more valuable to Johnny Manziel than his eligibility to play football […]

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