As the NCAA continues to investigate if Manziel got paid to sign autographs and memorabilia for dealers, Peterson spoke out about the situation and if he believes amateur athletes should be allowed to profit off their own names.
“I think so,” Peterson told FOXSports.com in a telephone interview Thursday. “The universities are making a lot of money off of student athletes in general. So, yeah, he should be able to make money. I think so. They make millions off of these college athletes and they made millions off of the guys I played with as well. Yeah, he should be getting paid.”
Peterson, who starred at the University of Oklahoma for three seasons, saw first-hand the attention high-profile players attract at the collegiate level. When asked if every college football player should get paid or if it should be a case-by-case situation, Peterson said:
“I think if you are in a position to where people want to pay you for your autographs or signatures, then you should be able to do that. He’s a young man and he should be able to sign his name on a helmet or wherever without it being an issue."
Peterson, who recently joined forces with pharmaceutical company Mylan Specialty LP to launch a campaign to improve preparedness for life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), isn’t the first NFL superstar to be outspoken about paying college players. Earlier this week, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said that he would be “mad” if Manziel escapes suspension.
“Hell yeah, I’ll be mad,” Bryant said. “I will be mad. But I don’t want him to get suspended. I will be mad more at the NCAA on how they do things. I just feel like it’s not fair. This is something I have no problem talking about because I feel like somebody needs to say something to him and let it be known how they treat people is not right.”
Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy after setting an FBS all-purpose yardage record for freshmen in 2012, has received scrutiny for his fast-paced lifestyle this offseason. Several reports have emerged that Manziel received payment for multiple autograph sessions. Manziel's attorney has been adamant that while he was aware that the quarterback has signed plenty of autographs in the past year, he’s not aware of any evidence of him receiving money to do so.
Peterson, who returned from reconstructive knee surgery last season, ran for 2,097 yards in 2012, eight shy of the NFL's all-time single-season record. The Vikings running back also commented on whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III should play in the preseason. Griffin, who has been rehabbing a torn ACL which he suffered in January, has been direct with reporters in saying that he would like to play but team doctors have told head coach Mike Shanahan to have him sidelined until Week 1.
Peterson says he can relate to Griffin because they have both been embroiled in similar situations and are fierce competitors who know what’s best for their bodies.
“I think the [coaches] need to listen to him,” Peterson said. “In the preseason, if he feels like that’s what he needs to do. I’m the type of person that knows my body and you know how you feel. So, if he feels like he’s ready to roll then go for it.
“To be in the position that he’s in from what he’s gone through in college and being the second pick, I’m sure he has a great work ethic. But I’m sure they’re thinking why chance it in the preseason.”