Johnny Manziel and the AAF would be a perfect marriage
Johnny Manziel and the CFL are officially divorced.
That information was made public Wednesday afternoon when the Montreal Alouettes released a statement announcing not only was the former Heisman Trophy winner off the team but also banned from signing with another CFL team.
So yeah, “divorce” is the appropriate word. We don’t know the specifics of what led to the split, other than that Manziel “contravened the agreement which made him eligible to play in the league,” and that these were some of the conditions that Manziel agreed to with the CFL (via USA Today):
Whether he plays or not, Manziel’s employment in the CFL will depend on conditions set forth by the league, which called them “extensive and exacting.” Manziel labels them “mutually beneficial.”
Though the CFL has declined to make those stipulations public due to Canadian privacy laws and an assurance that they would stay confidential, Manziel revealed they include mandatory doctor visits and required Lithium tests each month. He also must visit with a therapist once a week.
Mental health is obviously a major issue and if Manziel doesn’t have that part taken care of, obviously his slim chance of a comeback gets even slimmer. But my mind — and maybe yours — went to a different place when I saw that the CFL booted him.
The AAF and Manziel would be a perfect marriage.
It almost makes too much sense. You’ve got one of the most polarizing sports figures of the 21st century playing American football on American television. Even better, he’d be doing so on channels that most people get! That’s a win-win!
San Antonio has an AAF team that Manziel could play for. The 1-2 Commanders could use a little spark on and off the field.
Shoot, it doesn’t matter where Manziel would go. He would sell tickets anywhere he went in the AAF because his name and reputation is still a lightning rod for conversation. I’m not saying it would be Michael Jordan playing baseball for the Birmingham Barons, but there would be an overnight jolt for any AAF team who got Manziel. The marketing benefits speak for themselves. Everything he did would be newsworthy, much like it was in the early stages of his CFL career.
And for Manziel, obviously it would make a ton of sense for him to want to get back playing on American soil with more familiar rules. He actually had some pretty positive things to say about the AAF during his most recent episode of his Comeback SZN podcast on Barstool:
“[The AAF] is great for football, it’s great for the guys who need more opportunity, need more film and time to play. I don’t know exactly what my exact steps will be for the next years coming up, but at least there’s a lot of options. Me and E.B. [agent Erik Burkhardt] are fully committed to playing ball and trying to get into the best situation possible and that’s what it’s all about.
“Just keep going. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially with how things have gone every single day. It’s just trying to win the day-by-day, the one day battle of trying to win that day to do good as good as you can. It hasn’t always been easy – hit some speed bumps here and there – but I’m playing ball. I’m back to a position where I can do what I love doing and what a great year and opportunity it’s been for me.”
Manziel is right about a couple things. The AAF is great for football and it’s great for the guys who need more of an opportunity.
We know Manziel has been given plenty of opportunities. That’s a strange thing to say about someone who just turned 26 a couple months ago, but it’s true. The AAF would be the latest league to give Manziel an opportunity to play the sport he took by storm a few short years ago.
And while there is definitely some risk with bringing in someone like Manziel for the AAF — he’d become the new face of the league even if he isn’t starting — it might be one worth taking at this point. March Madness is right around the corner. So are the NBA and NHL playoffs. Those AAF viewership numbers, which got a nice bump in Week 3, would look a whole lot more promising for the latter half of the season with Manziel on board. That’s undeniable.
Can the AAF still satisfy a long overdue need for the NFL without Manziel on board? Absolutely. As I outlined last week, dismissing the league because it shifted from one primary investor to another is premature. But anyone can see the mutual benefits for both the AAF and Manziel if some flirtation leads to marriage.
Comeback SZN hit a bump in the road Wednesday. Now we see if Manziel can rebound one more time.