A Texas-based trading card company is trying to cash in on the "Johnny Football" craze, claiming it has done nothing illegal and has not done anything to jeopardize the Heisman Trophy winner's eligibility.
ESPN reported on Wednesday that Leaf Trading Cards is offering a special Johnny Manziel autographed card as part of a redemption promotion in two of its sets of football cards.
Leaf president Brian Gray said the signatures were "acquired from third parties with the intention of putting them into product, but neither Manziel at the time he signed them nor the sellers of the signatures knew of Leaf's intention."
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Texas A&M compliance department came to Manziel's defense and said it would investigate.
"Johnny has indicated on numerous occasions and once again earlier today that he has never (and, to his knowledge, his parents, other relatives, and friends have never) been compensated through cash or other benefits or promises of deferred compensation for providing his autograph," said David Batson, Texas A&M's director of compliance in a statement.
Manziel has filed to trademark his nickname and recently sued a T-shirt retailer over use of the name.
Manziel told ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit that the university and family lawyers are working together to try to get Leaf to stop selling the cards.
"If they say, 'Well, we're going to keep selling it' or whatever, that's where it comes to a point where we'll sue for damages," Manziel said.