Johnny Manziel to join AAF’s Memphis Express

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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.” 

Saturday 

Orlando Apollos at Atlanta Legends: The Apollos are perfect no more. Orlando last weekend lost to an Arizona team that had dropped three in a row. Things were even worse for the Legends, who followed back-to-back wins with a 37-6 drubbing by San Antonio. APOLLOS

Salt Lake Stallions at San Antonio Commanders:  The Commanders have won three straight — all on the road — to take over the lead of the Western Conference. 

Now they return home to the Alliance’s biggest crowd. San Antonio has scored 66 points in the past two games. COMMANDERS and OVER 

Sunday 

San Diego Fleet at Arizona Hotshots: It’s hard to figure out the Hotshots. The preseason league favorites won their first two games, then lost three in a row before winning at previously undefeated Orlando. The Fleet is a little easier: San Diego is 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. HOTSHOTS 

Birmingham Iron at Memphis Express:  Although the Express is 1-5, four of the losses have come by a combined 12 points.  EXPRESS

Last week: 0-4

Season:  5-12

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About the Author

Ched Whitney

Ched Whitney has been a journalist in Las Vegas since 1994. He worked for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 18 years, where he was the paper’s art director for 12. Since becoming a freelancer in 2012, his work has appeared at ESPN.com, AOL, The Seattle Times and UNLV Magazine, among others. ​

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