Report: Broker says he paid Johnny Manziel $7,500 for autographs
In maybe the most serious allegation yet against Johnny Manziel, another autograph broker says he paid Johnny Manziel $7,500.
ESPN followed reports from Sunday and Monday about the Heisman Trophy winner with revelations from an "East Coast autograph broker" who said he had paid Manziel $7,500 in January for signing "approximately 300 mini- and full-sized helmets."
The broker said he met Manziel in New Haven, Conn., during the Aggies quarterback's visit to the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Manziel spent about an hour signing items over three separate sessions, the broker said.
The broker reportedly showed two video clips taken on a cell phone during the autograph sessions, ostensibly for authentication purposes. On the videos, Manziel reportedly tells the broker "you never did a signing with me" and says he would claim to have been approached by multiple autograph seekers if asked about the nature of the memorabilia.
The videos, which ESPN declined to pay for after the broker made an offer, were taken without Manziel's knowledge. They do not show Manziel accepting payment for the sessions.
The latest news follows ESPN's initial report that Manziel was paid a five-figure fee to sign memorabilia for broker Drew Tieman during his trip to the BCS Championship Game. ESPN also reported Monday that Manziel associate Nathan Fitch told a second broker that, after a lengthy free signing session, Manziel would no longer autograph items for the broker free of charge.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said Monday the school was doing its "due diligence" in regard to Manziel's NCAA eligibility, but that until further notice, Manziel would remain the team's No. 1 quarterback.
The NCAA is reportedly investigating the appearance of several items of Manziel-autographed memorabilia currently on the market. But the East Coast broker at the center of Tuesday's report said he did not intend to cooperate with the NCAA's investigation.
If neither he, Tieman or the sources cited in Sunday's report will talk to the NCAA, investigators might have to rely on financial records or receipts to prove Manziel accepted payment for his autograph -- a potentially difficult proposition if those transactions were made in cash.
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