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McKenzie’s public comments on Manziel were premature


At a time when college coaches surely are getting a little uneasy about the ever-increasing number of underclassmen choosing to leave early, the NFL could be looking for a way to placate the Nick Sabans of the world by making an example out of someone.

Enter Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie.

By speaking publicly about former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel before Manziel officially has been declared eligible for the draft, McKenzie violated the league’s Anti-Tampering provisions. As one league source said in response to McKenzie’s remarks about Manziel, “That’s a league fine.”

The NFL’s rule relating to college players is clear: “Club personnel who make public comments about the football ability or NFL potential of underclassmen who have not yet been officially declared eligible for the draft will be subject to discipline by the Commissioner.”

While the deadline for declaring for early admission to the draft has come and gone, Manziel and none of the other underclassman have been “officially declared eligible for the draft.” That’ll happen Saturday.

Is it a technical violation for McKenzie to speak about Manziel two days early? Yes. Is it a harmless violation? Absolutely. But between the rookie wage scale backfiring on college football by luring more players to the NFL so that they can start logging years toward their second contracts and the NFL’s overt tracking of and speculation about players who will or may declare early for the draft via the league-owned website, the power-that-be in pro football may need to do something to appease the powers-that-be in college football.

If so, McKenzie has made it very easy for the league to make an unambiguous statement.