Former Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is returning to the gridiron with the new Fan Controlled Football circuit after publicly battling addiction problems and bouncing from league to league in recent years.
Manziel, 28, revealed his decision to ESPN, which reports that the new league will begin play in February and feature 7-on-7 games that allow fans to decide roster moves and even call plays.
Although the former first-round NFL draft pick has made serious comeback attempts in the Canadian Football League (2018) and the now-defunct Alliance of American Football (2019), he admits that this endeavor is more informal.
Former Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is returning to the gridiron with the new Fan Controlled Football circuit after publicly battling addiction problems and bouncing from league to league in recent years. In this 2019 picture, he is seen walking off the field after playing for the Memphis Express of the AAF
‘The more I heard about what this was going to be, the more I felt it was going to be something that was just very fun,’ Manziel said. ‘It’s going to be very fan-oriented and something I could get behind without being extremely, extremely, extremely serious, the way that my football career has been in the past.’
Following his admitted battle with alcohol and drug issues, Manziel told ESPN he now lives a laid-back life in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he plays golf and watches football with friends.
‘Life gives you opportunities sometimes to do something that you would still like to do if it was in a different capacity,’ Manziel said.
‘This has a lot of potential to just be a good time and still be football-centric. They’re going to let the people [who] join this league be who they are and have fun with it and be a little bit more free than what football is sometimes.
Manziel played for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes before being mysteriously released in 2018 for an unspecified violation of his personal conduct agreement with the league
‘That’s definitely what appealed to me. They don’t want me to change who I am or anything else. They want to come out, put a good product out and be fun with it.’
The FCF is a new take on football, with a 50-by-35-yard field, hour-long games, and an emphasis on fan involvement.
Some of the league’s investors include current and former NFL stars like Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch.
Last year, Manziel played for the Memphis Express of the AAF before suffering an injury. Unfortunately for him, the upstart league suspended play in April of 2019, leaving the former NFL star without a job.
He had signed with the Express after mysteriously being released by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2018 for an unspecified violation of a private agreement with the league concerning his behavior. Manziel also played briefly with the Hamilton Tiger Cats before being traded to Montreal.
Manziel has not played in the NFL since 2015. He has earned around $8 million in his brief career.
Manziel now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he plays golf and watches football with friends
Manziel became known as ‘Johnny Football’ at Texas A&M, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 2012. However, he struggled in his two years with Cleveland while battling addiction issues
In a 2018 interview with Good Morning America, Manziel revealed that he was self-medicating with alcohol and other substances back in 2016 when he got the boot from Cleveland after two disappointing seasons.
He has since admitted to being bipolar and said he is being treated for the disorder.
Manziel separated from his wife, Bre Tiesi, last year. He was previously in a two-year relationship with Colleen Crowley, who he is accused of hitting, kidnapping and threatening to kill following a night of partying in January 2016.
The Dallas County district attorney’s office agreed in December 2016 to drop charges against Manziel if he took an anger management course, listened to victims of domestic abuse speak at an impact panel and attended a rehab facility for drug and alcohol abuse.
Crowley claimed in court papers that Manziel hit her so hard during the incident that she lost hearing in her left ear.
Manziel has denied hitting his ex-girlfriend and the charges were dismissed.
He has since spent time receiving treatment for drug and alcohol use.