For its September 6 cover, Time could not have picked a more appropriate approach if it wants to sell magazines. On national, regional and local sports networks, radio stations and magazines, as well as the sports section of every newspaper, the debate has raged on about Johnny Football. But, the argument has mostly been about whether or not Manziel deserved a longer suspension for doing what we all know he ALLEGEDLY did: accepting money for signing autographs, an NCAA rules violation.
And Manziel only stoked the flames of that battle when he went heel (as our own Sean Pendergast put it) against Rice mimicking signing autographs and eventually earning a personal foul penalty (and an early exit via Coach Kevin Sumlin) for taunting. Manziel could have put the whole incident behind him, but instead he only seemed emboldened by it, raising the level of his status as a punk frat boy from four kegs to eight on the standard 10-kegs-and-you're-a-giant-douchbag scale.
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So, bravo Time for keeping the debate going. You'll sell a shit ton of magazines.
But, what will propel this particular magazine to millions in sales (I assume) is not that Manziel is on the cover or that the story arguing that it is time to pay collegiate athletes (as if a scholarship wasn't enough, but that's for another day), but that they are combined into one giant hot mess of a controversy.
For some (I'm looking at you, Aggie fans who have dismissed Manziel's crass and potentially Code of Honor-breaking behavior for the sake of wins on the field), this will simply act to excuse Manziel's behavior because, "Hey, if we had just paid him in the first place, he wouldn't be forced to sign autographs in secret to buy pizza money and Bibles."
Yes, it's a firestorm of issues that Time has bundled into one cover. Whether the pay for play issue is a relevant one or not (it is) and whether putting Johnny Football on the cover helps to shine the spotlight on college athletics in general or not (it does), the combination is as inflammatory as it sounds and should only serve to widen the smirk of a grin plastered on Maziel's face 24 hours a day seven days a week. Congrats Time, now when Johnny is rubbing his fingers together in the faces of his opponents, he can just say, "What? Time said to pay me."