It used to be tough to keep up with Johnny Manziel on the football field, where he scrambled wildly to extend plays long enough to pile up 7,820 yards and 63 touchdowns through the air in two college seasons.
Now it’s tough to keep up with him on Twitter, where he’s been doing more rambling than scrambling recently. The latest development with the multiple-time pro football washout appears to be a complete U-turn regarding his future in the sport.
Johnny Manziel backs away from wanting to play again
Johnny Manziel spent part of the weekend writing tweets and then deleting them. Up until Sunday night, it sounded as though he once again wanted a crack at playing in the XFL, addressing a tweet to commissioner Oliver Luck asserting “just send me the contract tomorrow and we’re in there.”
And then he scrambled like his old days at A&M, where Manziel rushed for 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns in those two magical seasons. Manziel took down not only his most recent tweets but the whole account.
The account then resurfaced with Manziel, who had received an endorsement from Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes via a weekend tweet, writing a fresh post saying, “Have zero desire to play any football these days. Just love stirring up controversy.”
And then for the sake of variety, Manziel deleted that tweet and one explaining his penchant for trolling but kept his account active.
What does Johnny Manziel’s flurry of posts and deletions mean?
Johnny Manziel has lots of time on his hands these days, having washed out of every form of pro football available other than arena leagues, so his 72-hour roller coaster ride on Twitter probably had more to do with missing being in the spotlight than with any actual desire to get back on the field.
It’s not so much that he’s left the sport behind as it is that football has left Manziel behind, worn out by his self-inflicted fall after being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Manziel threw seven TD passes in 15 games with the Browns over two seasons before wearing out his welcome with ineffective play on the field and spotty behavior off it.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was given shots by the Canadian Football League in 2018, where he showed a few flashes of promise over seven games, and the Alliance of American Football, where he appeared in two games last year shortly before the league folded.
Manziel started lobbying for a spot on an XFL roster last year while the league was ramping up for its 2020 debut, but officials made it clear that the circus atmosphere of the original XFL nearly two decades earlier wouldn’t be repeated.
Instead, the XFL has looked to the likes of Cardale Jones and Landry Jones, quarterbacks who didn’t distinguish themselves in the NFL but looked capable of bringing stability to teams in their infancy.
Will we see Johnny Manziel on the field again?
One frequently aired complaint about the NFL is that there are maybe 24 quarterbacks good enough to start and 40 or so who should never be more than backups.
The fact that Johnny Manziel attracted virtually no interest from teams in his first two years of unemployment and none since says all that fans need to know about the prospects of getting back to the NFL.
Worse still, the 27-year-old quarterback isn’t going to get back in the sport at the XFL level either. Commissioner Oliver Luck famously dismissed the prospect of signing Manziel last year.
“Johnny has his own history, and we have coaches from the CFL who have seen him close up,” Luck said. “I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”