More than halfway through its inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football finally has the marketable name it has desperately been searching for. After having previously gone after Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow, according to reports, it has now been made official that former first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel will participate in the league.
Manziel was recently kicked out of the Canadian Football League, where he served as a backup, for some type of violation of the terms of his being under contract there. The league even went so far as to say that any other team that attempted to sign him would see the contract voided.
So the stars aligned for Manziel to drop in the AAF’s lap—and more specifically, in the lap of the Memphis Express and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger took over the starting job after Christian Hackenberg lost the first three games, benched late in that third game, but the team is now 1-5.
“We are pleased to welcome Johnny Manziel to the Alliance of American Football, which we’ve always described as a league of opportunity for talented players to launch or revitalize their pro football careers,” Bill Polian said in a release. “We completed extensive background work to determine whether it would be appropriate for Johnny to play this season, and after consulting with many people familiar with his situation, we concluded that it would be good for him to resume his pro football career here at The Alliance.
The San Antonio Commanders, one of the better teams in the league who are locked in with Logan Woodside, were originally allocated his rights based on where he played collegiately (I’m not sure why it didn’t go by his CFL team, since they are also affiliates), but they released his rights and the Express claimed him off waivers.
Mettenberger was injured on the opening drive of the Express’ loss yesterday. Brandon Silvers came in to replace him rather than Hackenberg. Given that, I think it’s very likely that Manziel will be given an opportunity to play at some point over the course of the final four games.
Manziel was a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M. Drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns, he remained with the team for two seasons, starting but losing several games, before he was released due to his behavior off the field, which included checking into rehab.
He has recently been on a bid to clean up and resume his football career, which initially took him into the CFL, from which he has since been ousted. We’ll see what he can do in the AAF. I’m sure at least it will get some more people watching.