Johnny Manziel to join AAF's Memphis Express
March 20, 2019 3:00 AM
by Ched Whitney
Johnny Football is returning to the states.
Johnny Manziel, the former Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns first-round pick, was claimed Saturday by the Memphis Express after being cut by the CFL’s Montreal Aloutettes in February.
Memphis has been plagued by inconsistent quarterback play and is 1-5 on the season.
Manziel’s CFL contract was terminated after he reportedly missed a mandatory counseling session. Under the AAF’s system, former Texas A&M players are allocated to San Antonio, but the Commanders waived their rights to Manziel, making him available to the team with the worst record.
Express quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Zach Mettenberger have both struggled under center.
“We have a guy we think can do some great things for us,” Express president Kosha Irby said of the 26-year-old Manziel, according to The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. “We pride ourselves on being a league of opportunity. Whether that’s with people trying to ignite or reignite their careers..
“(Manziel) is a player with plenty of talent. We saw an opportunity and we think it’ll be a reciprocal situation.”
Offensive line troubles have exacerbated the Express’ quarterback problems. Manziel’s mobility — he has rushed 75 times for 474 yards in his career — could take some of the pressure off.
Memphis officials are also hoping for a boost at the box office.
The Express has drawn a little more than 25,000 fans over its two home games this season. A big-name like Manziel’s could certainly juice the attendance, though there’s no guarantee he would be on the field immediately.
“It’s gonna be a fun,” Irby said. “(Manziel) coming to Memphis will create a lot of buzz. We see it as an opportunity to be a draw for us with a guy of his appeal. But, first and foremost, we want to figure out ways to win football games.
“Everyone has to earn their spot and that can take time.”
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Last week: 0-4
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