Players weigh in on selling memorabilia

It's a touchy subject in college football.

We can thank Ohio State for that.

Just talking about selling college memorabilia immediately triggers beads of sweat to form on athletes' foreheads. Not because they might be guilty of it but because they're afraid anything they say could incriminate them.

After all, according to the NCAA, selling or trading memorabilia by college athletes is deemed illegal. The NCAA equates getting money for memorabilia to receiving improper benefits.

But it belongs to the athletes, right?

When Florida wide receiver Deonte Thompson was recently approached with the question of college athletes being allowed to sell their game-worn jerseys or championship rings, he hesitated for a few seconds before reeling off a string of "I don't know" responses as he shook his head.

A common response, but there were some who didn't shy away from confronting the issue.

Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson feels as though the jerseys, socks, belts, pants and rings given to players should be considered their property. And in this country, you're allowed to sell your property.

"If they give it to us, it’s ours. We should be able to do what we want," Jackson said. "You have coaches making millions and players who gotta wonder what they’re going to eat toward the end of the month because we’re not getting paid.

"I feel like if it has my name on the back of the jersey, I should be able to do what I want with it."

Jackson transferred from USC last summer. In his time there he went to a Rose Bowl, getting a special bowl jersey and ring for winning. To his credit, he hasn't needed the extra money and said he has never thought about selling his Rose Bowl ring or jersey.

And that's the general consensus from players around the league. Most feel as though players should be able to sell what is rightfully theirs, but most would rather keep their items for memory's sake.

Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright agrees with Jackson, but personally doesn't think selling memorabilia is right. He'd rather "cherish it and give it to his kids."

Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said he wouldn't sell any of his items, but didn't consider it wrong for players to be able to. For some players, Cox said, affording everyday comfort items is hard because of financial hardships. If players are struggling for money, Cox thinks they should be able to sell their gear in order to get by.

He's also in favor of student-athletes receiving some sort of extra compensation because he sees college football as actual work.

"The way I look at it, football is a job to us," Cox said. "We always talk about it as a job. We’re in football all day. You really don’t have time for a part time job, like a regular student would."

We heard and read about proposals to give student-athletes extra funds, but that process is still in the ground stages. So, why not put in the hands of the athletes? If they own their jerseys, gloves and championship rings, why shouldn't they be able to sell them for some extra cash?

Will it transform a 4.4 guy into a 4.2 guy? Will a quarterback have a tighter spiral because he sold the jersey he wore in the national championship?

No, but it will help those in need, and while Wright might not agree with the idea, he understands the sense it makes to allow athletes to sell what belongs to them.

"I know I don’t have much say so in that, but in a way they should be able to sell it because once the school gives it to them, it’s theirs," he said.