Johnny Manziel Claims 'Every' National Title Contender Had A 'Bag Man'

By Jason Hall

February 22, 2024

Texas A&M Spring Game
Photo: Getty Images

Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel claimed that every school "competing for a national title" during his legendary run at Texas A&M had "a bag man," which he argued was "the way it should be."

Manziel appeared on the 'Club Shay Shay' podcast this week and told Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe that backroom deals "went on for 30, 40 years before" his polarizing college football career.

“Just keep it in cash, throw it somewhere,” Manziel said. “We’ll get it later. We don’t need it right now. But for my security if something happens for two years down the road. And my dad did this without me knowing. And I ain’t mad at him about it for nothing. It’s the way the business worked back then. There was a bag man. There was a bag man at LSU. There was a bag man at ‘Bama. There was a bag man at every school around the country if you were competing for a national title. It is what it was, and it was always that way until we’re into the NIL portion of everything now. The way it should be.”

The NCAA announced its rule change allowing players to benefit from their name, image and likeness in 2021, having previously punished high-profile "amateur" collegiate athletes from earning compensation. Notable past punishments included Manziel's two quarter suspension and former USC running back Reggie Bush being stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy years after his collegiate career, which has led to an ongoing defamation lawsuit against the NCAA.

"“I got $700 a month coming in on stipend. That ain’t enough… Probably $10M a year. I could’ve done $5M on my own with the Instagram," Manziel told Sharpe of his projected earnings had the NIL deal been in place during his collegiate career.

Manziel also claimed his father attempted to broker a deal with then-A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin to keep his son in College Station for two more seasons, rather than declare for the 2014 NFL Draft early.

“My dad went and had a meeting with Kevin Sumlin,” said Manziel, who claimed he was unaware of the meeting until about five years later. “And pretty much went to him man to man and was like, ‘We’ll take $3 million and we’ll stay for the next two years.’ And my dad says this is as true today as he did when he told me.”

Manziel said Sumlin blew off the offer, claiming his former coach had an ego about him, crediting the Aggies' success, in large part, to his doing, rather than Manziel's. The 31-year-old was college football's most polarizing player during time at A&M, becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, as well as being a consensus All-American and winning the Davey O'Brien and Manning awards and the Associated Press, Sporting News and SEC Offensive Player of the Year awards, while leading the Aggies to an 11-2 (6-2 SEC) overall record -- which included an upset of eventual national champion Alabama -- in 2012.

Manziel was selected by the Browns at No. 22 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, but was limited to just eight starts in 14 appearances during his two-year NFL career, which coincided with numerous controversies and legal issues.

The Texas native has since played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2018) and Montreal Alouettes (2018) of the Canadian Football League; the Memphis Express of the defunct Alliance of American Football; and the FCF Zappers (2021-present) of the Fan Controlled Football League, having won the league's People's Champion award in 2022.

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