Johnny Manziel appears to have an unlikely future in the XFL after commissioner Oliver Luck alluded to the belief that the quarterback would not be able to make the roster for one of the eight teams. Oliver noted in December that the XFL front offices did not believe Manziel was a better player than the quarterbacks on the current rosters.
Manziel went undrafted in the XFL, and Oliver explained that the league has former CFL coaches who are familiar with his game. During a December 2019 interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Oliver was asked specifically about Manziel along with former Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
“I would argue that the players we have are better than those guys, to be honest with you,” Oliver noted to the Tampa Bay Times. “Johnny has his own history, and we have coaches from the CFL (Canadian Football League) who have seen him close up. I watched Trent when he was with the Colts, and I watched him when he was with the AAF. He was in the draft pool. Coaches and scouts looked at him and didn’t think he was going to help their team. I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”
Manziel Previously Expressed a Desire to Play for the XFL’s Houston Franchise
Manziel did express interest in playing for the XFL’s Houston franchise prior to going undrafted. Manziel noted that Houston has a lot of ties to Texas A&M, and he felt like he could bring a lot of support to the new league.
“It’s a stone’s throw from College Station,” Manziel told ESPN in June of 2019. “A lot of Aggies drove from Houston to College Station. Houston’s a great city that’ll always be near and dear to me.”
Manziel also has experience playing under Houston coach June Jones during their time together in CFL. Manziel noted that it was a positive experience playing in Jones offense.
“Coach Jones is a great guy,” Manziel said, per ESPN. “I enjoyed him from an offensive standpoint, from a personal standpoint. He’s been there for me, especially when I was in Hamilton, getting to a new place, a different country. I enjoyed my time with him very thoroughly, and I think it would be a great opportunity.”
Manziel Last Played in the AAF & CFL After His NFL Stint With the Browns
Manziel played briefly in the AAF for the Memphis Express prior to the league folding. The quarterback also played in the Canadian Football League for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes.
Manziel’s short NFL tenure with the Browns did not go as planned after the quarterback was out of the league after his first contract. Manziel has been vocal about his battle with substance abuse.
“I don’t expect people to look at my story and feel bad for me. A lot of what I did was self-inflicted,” Manziel told USA Today in 2018. “I’m at a point now where I can look back, I can reflect and realize that I was one way. That was wrong. What can I do moving forward because I can’t change how I was.”