Time says it’s time to pay athletes, but did they pay Manziel for his cover appearance?

Time magazine placed Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy quarterback Johnny Manziel on the cover of their latest issue, saying it is time to begin paying college football players. The thought is nothing new of course, and it has been a topic of growing interest, debate and discussion over the past few years any time a player gets investigated or suspended for accepting extra benefits for whatever they have to offer, be it memorabilia or signatures (allegedly).

What makes this a fascinating cover subject is Manziel, officially, has never been found to be guilty of accepting money. At least, that's what the NCAA concluded, and who wouldn't take them at their word? Matt Yoder, noted for his work over at Awful Announcing, thought there were some more worthy options for the cover…

We do not need to get in to a debate over whether r not players should be paid at this time. Instead, let's direct our reaction to the decision to place Manziel on the cover. Odds are this featured story may have been one that circulated through the college football blogosphere and media with some discussion. It is painfully obvious, without having read the story itself, that Manziel was placed on the cover to spark reaction. We all know how this game works. Find the most popular cover subject, throw him on the cover and let people see it in a tweet. The retweets will come flooding in in short time and Time will be at the center of the college football media table for at least a few hours.

It's not as if Time has other topics worth discussing, like a growing crisis in Syria. If you follow Time on Twitter, you might find the random college football story a bit out of place. If this were Sesame Street, this would be a game of "One of these things is not like the other."

Congratulations Time. You know how to go viral in social media. I do have some questions though. Did Time pay Manziel for using his likeness to sell magazines? If not (which would be an NCAA violation), is this not a bit like the pot calling the kettle black? Why should we take Time seriously for saying it is time to pay athletes when they (in all likelihood) have not paid Manziel for using his likeness on their cover? Will Manziel have to sit out half a game for posing for a photo for Time knowing that the magazine would be making a profit on his likeness?

Let's call a spade a spade here, can we? It's one thing to suggest players should be paid. I am not necessarily opposed to the concept, but let's move on from that and start putting together ideas on how it could be done. I'll take swipes at the NCAA along with anybody, but even I know when we enter the area of piling on. I have not read this story yet (subscribers can read the story here), so perhaps there are ideas on taking those next steps.

Kevin McGuire is the managing editor of Crystal Ball Run. Follow McGuire on Twitter,Facebook and Google+.

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About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to NBCSports.com's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.