Johnny Manziel Gets Paid (And Is Allowed to Acknowledge It)

All right, I'll admit it. This feels weird.

Over the last year and change, we've become so used to casting a skeptical eye toward everything involving Johnny Manziel and any sort of renumeration or benefit.

Courtside tickets to NBA playoff games? Must be some booster behind it, right?

Golf in Pebble Beach? Had to be there on somebody else's dime, right? (Actually, he was. His parents'.)

Several thousand pieces of memorabilia signed by Johnny last summer? He had to be getting paid, right? (Ok, that last one probably deserves a skeptical eye.)

Well, Thursday officially marked the dawning of a new era -- Johnny Manziel got paid, and there's nothing the NCAA or anyone else can do about it.

Courtesy of ESPN.com's Darren Rovell (who ironically was the driving force behind much of the coverage of the Great Manziel Autograph Caper last summer), Johnny Manziel has cast his footwear and athletic gear lot with Phil Knight and Nike:

Johnny Football is now property of Nike.

Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and potential first overall pick in May's NFL draft, informed the world's largest shoe and apparel brand that it had won the sweepstakes to outfit his feet and use him in marketing campaigns, Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins confirmed Thursday night.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources told ESPN.com that it's a multiyear deal that will be the highest price paid for a rookie in this year's class. Manziel's team negotiating the deal included LeBron James' business manager, Maverick Carter, and Fenway Sports Group.

Reportedly adidas, Under Armour, and New Balance all had a crack at Manziel, and of those three, I would imagine adidas is kicking itself the hardest, given that Texas A&M is an adidas client. (Between losing Johnny Football, and losing the Notre Dame account to Under Armour, adidas has taken some bumps this offseason.)

Manziel reportedly has a higher payout from Nike than anyone in the 2013 rookie class, and will likely be Nike's highest paid rookie in this year's class as well. Now, Nike's next order of business (aside from coming up with what I'm sure will be some kick ass "Johnny Football" commercials) will be praying that Manziel lands in a market not named Jacksonville.

For what it's worth, Manziel's childhood friend and during-college handler "Uncle" Nate Fitch appears to be in a celebratory mood over yesterday's turn of events... (or he's drunk in a casino full of "haters" somewhere)...

All righty then!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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