Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, flamed out of professional football. His struggles on and off the field added up to a chaotic, unsuccessful run with the Cleveland Browns. No other NFL teams wanted to take a chance on an underperforming quarterback. The CFL gave him another opportunity, but under mysterious circumstances, he washed out of that league, too.
In a sport with little international attention, there’s only one place left to go: the upcoming revival of Vince McMahon’s controversial NFL alternative. Will the XFL let Manziel have his third chance at redemption?
Johnny Manziel may not fit with the new XFL
Instead of a coin toss, original XFL games began with a violent scramble for the ball. Commentators read Vegas odds aloud during games, reveled in the brutality of hits, and generally did their best to be the opposite of the NFL. This mainly served to distract from the middling level of play on the field.
That version of the XFL may have been a perfect fit for Manziel. His college days were a success, and he picked up a reputation for hard partying. But the new version of the XFL learned many lessons from its embarrassing 2001 failure.
The upcoming XFL distinguishes itself from the NFL with rule adjustments mostly meant to up the pace of play. Ironically, the 2020 XFL positions itself as a lineup of respectful boy scouts. McMahon won’t tolerate flag-kneeling or off-field criminality. Given Manziel’s poor track record with the law, this may not be the league for him.
Why one XFL team refuses to sign Manziel
Johnny Football responded to his expulsion from the CFL by declaring he’d look for a new job. However, at least one XFL team won’t bite on the offer. Current XFL executive Daryl Johnston told the Dallas Morning-News, “I passed on him in San Antonio, and I’d pass on him again here.” So even if Manziel manages to transcend his criminal record, he won’t play for Johnston’s Dallas Renegades anytime soon.
Johnston cites the need for a healthy locker room environment as his main reason for passing on Manziel. This take isn’t unique. Manziel’s leadership deficiencies explain why even when the NFL is short on talent at QB, no NFL teams consider Manziel an option for depth at the position.
Manziel’s chance at redemption requires overcoming McMahon’s high standards for personal conduct. He’ll need as many allies as he can get. And he just might have them.
Several XFL teams may be interested in Manziel
Houston Roughnecks head coach June Jones knows Johnny Football. He worked with Manziel during his short stint with the CFL. And, unlike his NFL counterparts, Jones is happy to do it all over again. His enthusiasm may explain why he says five teams also put Manziel on their QB wishlists.
Jones told Fox, “I had Johnny in Hamilton, I liked him and we’ve had a good relationship. But at the same time the [XFL is] making decisions for what’s best for the league.” This hints that there may be another side to Manziel that the public isn’t familiar with.
Jones isn’t a third party willing to risk controversy to get the best player possible. He coached Manziel, and he’ll stick his neck out to do it all over again.It looks like the final word on this controversial quarterback lies with Vince McMahon and the other XFL executives.