The Air that Johnny Manziel Signed


As a college football fan, I sometimes come across headlines that are hard to believe. Sometimes they’re hard to believe because they tell about a player’s amazing physical feat. Sometimes they’re hard to believe because they tell about a player or coach doing something ridiculous off the field. Then there’s another category that I could call “bizarre and funny.” Saturday I saw one of these: “Want Some Air Signed by Johnny Football? Today’s Your Lucky Day.” (( According to this story, there is an eBay auction for a can containing air signed by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. During the Aggies’ season opener against Rice, Manziel gestured as though he were signing his name. According to the auction:

[A]ir is public domain. As soon as Manziel autographed that air it became anyone’s to grab. That’s where I come in. I was at the game and watched this whole scenario unfold. I watched as the autographed air drifted in my direction. After fighting off several fans, I managed to take the autographed air into my mouth…and hold it there until the game ended. Upon returning home I blew Manziel’s autograph … into a small canister where it remains. Since eBay will not let me sell air, THIS AUCTION IS FOR THE CANISTER and the autographed air will be included for free. ((, emp. in orig.))

Hilarious! As of the time of my writing this post, the particular auction referenced by the article is no longer posted on eBay. However, there is another very similar auction going on, and the air already has two bids with over two days of auction time to go. (( That someone would bid on such an item is remarkable in itself, but even more so considering the numerous items for auction on eBay that really were signed by the same quarterback and that come with authentication.

There are aspects of the auction that make it ridiculous and funny, but which can also be said about contemporary religion:

First, the auction offered something that, by definition, cannot exist (air cannot be autographed!). Sometimes preachers make appeals to their audience that are internally inconsistent and therefore cannot be correct. For example, preachers appeal to their audiences to be saved by faith and not by works—even though belief itself is a work. Jesus confirms that faith itself is a work (John 6:29), and faith is necessary for salvation (Hebrews 11:6). Furthermore, some people say that baptism can be carried out by sprinkling or pouring water, but sprinkling or pouring is simply not  the definition of baptism. It means immersion. ((Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 94-95.))

Second, the person selling the air made a claim that could have just as well have been made by anyone else. Anyone could claim to have swallowed the same air that came into contact with Johnny Manziel, and there would be no way to verify which person was telling the truth. Religious people often claim to know the truth on the basis that the Holy Spirit spoke directly to them. However, there is no way to verify this, or to decide which of contradictory messages is true when each of them supposedly originated with the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit communicates to us indirectly (through the word of God), not in a miraculous, direct way (Zechariah 13:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10). ((See Dave Miller, “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation, (2003).))

Third, the auction has bidders. People are sometimes willing to dedicate themselves to worthless causes. For example, Jesus remarked that the Jewish leaders of his day (in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy; Isaiah 29:13) worshiped God vainly, or worthlessly, because they taught doctrines of men instead of the truth of the Old Testament. Today, people similarly worship in ways that are unauthorized by the New Testament and teach all manner of doctrines that cannot be found in the New Testament.

In conclusion, Roll Tide!


- 2024

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