Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What’s in a name? Manziel family tries to protect rights to “Johnny Football” nickname

Maybe you remember the brouhaha over LSU’s attempts to protect the use of “Honey Badger” on apparel related to former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu last season. Another year, another sensation and another brewing controversy.


As the legend of "Johnny Football" grew on Saturday night with the Aggies' 29-24 upset of top-ranked Alabama, it became clear that the family of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was putting itself in position to one day capitalize off his nickname.

"Texas A&M is working in concert with the Manziel family to trademark the nickname," said Shane Hinckley, who is assistant vice president of business development at the school and runs the Aggies' licensing program.

The news comes less than two weeks after an organization called Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments, based in College Station, Texas, filed for the "Johnny Football" trademark. The namesake of the investment company could be a former and since deceased Aggie booster of the same name. A lawyer listed on the trademark filing did not return a call seeking comment, but a university official confirmed the lawyer was not working with the school nor the Manziels.


One of the most asinine rules of the NCAA is that neither Manziel nor his family can profit from Johnny Football’s name, nickname or likeness while the player remains eligible.

The school can however, and Texas A&M also has the responsibility of making sure that no one else does.

In this instance, it appears some jackleg A&M booster has attempted to trademark the “Johnny Football” moniker, thereby potentially robbing the kid or his family of the rights to any future income generated by sales of apparel using the likeness or nickname.

It’s way too early to tell whether Manziel has a future in the NFL—he’s only a freshman and he doesn’t have the measurables one normally expects of an NFL quarterback. But if he keeps putting up eye-popping stats and making incredible plays, that could change and his future could be worth millions.

So could the rights to Johnny FootballTM

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