Copyright: benkrut / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: benkrut / 123RF Stock Photo

Johnny Manziel is getting his first start this weekend. As profiled in the Bleacher Report, he has earned it. Respectful and patient are not the words that were associated with him in college. By the same token, I have never seen a more exciting college quarterback.

Back to law. Classes on how to train associates tend to repeat the mantra, “one third, one third, one third.”  In other words, one third of the associates are hopeless regardless of training, one third can be taught and one third just have that indefinable something. As one of my former managing partners put it, “you are hanging over a cliff, holding on by your fingers. Who do you trust to pull you up?”  In football and in law, we work very hard to identify those destined for leadership. Good luck Johnny.

By Jeffrey S. Kravitz, Esquire & Sekou Campbell, Esquire

Sam Kahn, Jr. of ESPN Radio recently reported that Johnny Manziel is exploring the option of "Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance," provided by the NCAA. The insurance coverage is reported to be routinely sought by players in Manziel’s position. Insurance, a frequent theme on this blog, poses interesting questions for college athletics generally, and for the "exceptional athlete" in particular.

Most critically, perhaps, insurance may be a way to reconcile the NCAA’s tension between amateurism and big-money media contracts. Generally, insurance is a type of compensation. Employees frequently receive health insurance, life insurance, retirement insurance and other forms of financial protection as part of their compensation. However, the actual payout is generally deferred until a "triggering event."
The Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program, however, limits who can pull the "trigger" and makes the "trigger" itself tiny compared to the potential losses all student athletes face. The policy provides coverage for a limited number of athletes (top round draft picks in baseball, basketball, football, and men’s hockey), charges a premium (though there is a mechanism for impecunious players to acquire the necessary coverage), and pays out in a limited number of circumstances ("permanent total disability," requiring what amounts to a career-ending injury).
However, the NCAA’s insurance policy is, at worst, a tepid acknowledgment that at least some of its athletes bear a burden by playing NCAA sports. Advocates for compensating athletes may be able to convince the NCAA that the success of its nearly 25-year old insurance program may be due for some broadening for two reasons.
First, this policy does not cover the "late bloomer" exceptional athlete. For instance, the current insurance policy would have likely excluded the likes of Scottie Pippen, Tom Brady, or Randy Johnson. Second, athletes who decide to "go pro in something other than sports," also bear a risk from injury. For instance, a student-athlete may suffer a hand injury foreclosing her from a career as a surgeon. There are obvious costs to expanding exceptional athlete insurance, but those can be captured in premiums, deductibles and other terms, as with any insurance package.

By Jeffrey S. Kravitz, Esq.

Johnny Manziel is putting up numbers for Texas A&M that make him, if not the odds on favorite for the Heisman, at least a face that we will see at the New York Athletic Club when the award is given. And why not? Does anyone doubt that Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the best collegian in the land as a freshman or Bill Walton?


In those days, freshman were not even eligible to play varsity ball, but Johnny Football sure looks good for a kid you never heard of coming into this season. As the sentiment in the Dallas Morning News Blog has it, why not? In private law firms, freshman are most often relegated to the back room (my firm excepted) but in public employment, they often hand you a file and say "try this case."  As a young pup, I faced a veteran trial lawyer on a civil rights case who had a big reputation. I was too green to know who he was and my bosses let me run with it. Beat him to everyone’s surprise, I had a senior lawyer who did not want to try cases any more hand me a file, only to have me find out that I was facing the man known as the Desert Fox. Always loved the quote from Hall of Fame baseballer Dizzy Dean  "It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it."