Many hurdles before Johnny Football plays in the XFL

Johnny Manziel 2014 Browns training camp (Source)

The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League released quarterback Johnny Manziel on Wednesday, saying he “contravened the agreement which made him eligible to play.” This dramatic step may also spell out how Johnny Manziel may have many hurdles before he would be signed by the AAF or XFL.

For the Canadian Football League, the Johnny Manziel experiment is over. In Canadian style, the CFL made an effort to give Manziel an additional chance to overcome his personal shortcomings by signing him to an agreement that stipulated certain conditions. Also, in typical Canadian style, those conditions remained private and were never publicly spelled out.

On the day Manziel was released, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie was quick to point out, “We didn’t release the terms of those conditions then, and we’re not going to do that now.”

Montreal Alouettes General Manager Kavis Reed further remarked on Manziel’s conditions of employment with “3DownNation” :

“Q: Did Manziel want to be released to pursue playing opportunities in the United States?

Reed: Johnny Manziel never gave any indication of that, during that whole process that wasn’t a part of it. Mr. Manziel violated a condition of the agreement with the league. Mr. Manziel was given opportunities to be able to rectify the situation and chose not to. This was not a part of the understanding, the league and our team put a lot of infrastructure in place for Mr. Manziel to be successful and it did not work out.”

We know Manziel was not released because he wanted to play in the AAF or XFL. However, in a tweet Manziel thanked his CFL team and fans, and then claimed he is now exploring new options in the United States.

Recently, on Barstool Sports’ Comeback SZN podcast, Manziel remarked he liked the idea of playing in the AAF or XFL. “It’s great for football, it’s great for the guys who need more opportunity, need more film and time to play,” Manziel said. “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.”

Will the future hold that Manziel will appear in either the AAF or XFL?

Manziel’s history is his biggest shortcoming, as he has dealt with several off-field issues. In 2016, a domestic assault charge against Manziel in Dallas was dismissed after he took an anger management course and participated in the NFL’s substance abuse program. More recently, Manziel revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, something he has been determined to overcome.

Football-wise, Manziel is a star. Given the nickname ”Johnny Football” he was awarded the prestigious Heisman Trophy as a freshman quarterback with the Texas A&M Aggies. Later, he was taken in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. However, the Browns released Manziel in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter and suffered from several off-field controversies.

Manziel’s potential star quality aside, surely either the AAF or XFL would have to consider Manziel in the same way the CFL did, hiring him under similar strict conditions.

Keep in mind the XFL has already emphatically stated they will not hire players who have legal issues. However, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck has recently stated the details of this hiring policy are still under review.  Manziel’s history may test this policy, adding another potential hurdle in Johnny Football’s quest to play professional football.

Plenty of positivity for Jim Zorn as he is welcomed into the XFL

XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck welcomes Jim Zorn into the XFL.

Monday saw XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck welcome former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn into the XFL as Head Coach and General Manager of the Seattle franchise, which spawned a torrent of positive messages to be sent in Zorn’s direction.

First from Oliver Luck himself:

Then from ESPN analyst Matt Haselback, a former Quarterback who was coached by Zorn.

Former Seahawks player Walter Jones weighed in,

As did Romeo Crennel from the Kansas City Chiefs,

and, John Harbaugh, Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

Lawsuit reveals Ebersol’s initial intention to go with XFL

McMahon may been thinking about resurrecting the XFL all along.

Earlier today, Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell tweeted about a lawsuit filed by investor Robert Vanech against the Alliance of American Football and Charlie Ebersol. He also revealed how Ebersol’s original plan was to restart the XFL by purchasing the league for $50 million from Vince McMahon.

  • Lawsuit details here.

Many observers have made the conclusion this gives evidence McMahon had an offer on the table to sell the remnants of the XFL for a substantial amount, and reacted by quickly turning around and reforming the league himself.  On the other hand, some think McMahon already had plans to resurrect the XFL.

There is ample evidence McMahon desired to revive the XFL all along, especially if you consider remarks he made in the 2016 Charlie Ebersol produced “This Was The XFL” special, an ESPN Films production in their “30 for 30” series.

When Dick Ebersol asked McMahon whether he had any thoughts about trying to restart the football league, Vince answered thoughtfully and quickly, “Yes, and no. I don’t know what it would be, whether it would be another XFL or how different I would make it but somehow it would tie-in with the NFL itself and the owners.” Afterward, the two men discussed the possibility of going back into a partnership, with Vince making the final comment that he was sure, “they could find a way.”

Afterward, in 2017, fans noticed how McMahon began to trademark new football related names, giving additional hints he hadn’t given up on his dream to create his own football league.

As revealed in the lawsuit, when Charlie Ebersol showed considerable interest in the XFL, it did seem to trigger McMahon to restart his pet project.  This left Ebersol to start his own league and attempt to do it quicker and better than the XFL.

We await the verdicts, both in the pending lawsuit, and the seemingly increasing friction between the XFL and AAF.

Oliver Luck announces the hiring of Jim Zorn as the head coach and general manager of XFL Seattle

Jim Zorn introduced as the head coach and general manager of the XFL team in Seattle.

Replay press conference on YouTube:

YouTube video

At the press conference, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck lauded Zorn. “I watched Jim Zorn play for the Seahawks, an expansion franchise, and I was totally captivated with his style of play. He was innovative. He was creative. He did all those things as a player that we want to do as a league.”

“He’s a great individual, and a man of high caliber,” Luck added.

Zorn is best known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks for their first eight seasons. Afterward, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks before being hired by the Washington Redskins to be their head coach starting in the 2008 season. After leaving Washington, Zorn was hired as quarterbacks coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and later as the quarterbacks’ coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jim Zorn Named XFL Head Coach in Seattle

SEATTLE, WASH., February 25, 2019 – The XFL today announced that former NFL quarterback and head coach Jim Zorn has been named the head coach and general manager of the new XFL team in Seattle.

“It’s an exciting day when Jim Zorn returns to his professional football roots,” said Oliver Luck, XFL Commissioner & CEO. “Jim comes to the XFL with terrific credentials as an NFL player and coach and a reputation for innovation. As the Seahawks first quarterback, he’s well-known in the Pacific Northwest and he appreciates our vision to reimagine the game.”

“I’m thrilled to be heading back to the sidelines, and I thank Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck for this opportunity,” said Zorn. “It’s not often that on the professional level a head coach also gets to choose his players, so this situation is truly unique. I’m looking forward to working with my coaches and staff to field a competitive, top-flight team for the amazing and loud football fans of the Pacific Northwest.”

Zorn joins Bob Stoops (Dallas) and Pep Hamilton (Washington, D.C.) as XFL head coaches named to date.

Zorn spent 11 years as a quarterback in the NFL, having the distinction of being the expansion Seattle Seahawks’ first signal caller in 1976 and remaining with the team through the 1984 season. He also played for the Green Bay Packers (1985), the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1986) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987). A rare left-handed passer, Zorn threw for more than 21,000 yards during his NFL career with 111 touchdowns and rushed for 1,504 yards scoring 17 touchdowns. He played college football as a quarterback at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, (Cal Poly Pomona) from 1973 to 1974.

Once he left the field, Zorn began a successful college coaching career in 1989 as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach at Boise State University. In 1992, he became offensive coordinator at Utah State University for three seasons before moving on to the University of Minnesota as quarterbacks coach from 1995 to 1996.

Zorn became an NFL coach in 1997. He served two stints with the Seahawks, first as an offensive assistant (1997) and then as quarterbacks coach (2001-2007). He also worked as quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions (1998-2000), Baltimore Ravens (2010), and Kansas City Chiefs (2011-2012). Quarterbacks benefitting from his expertise include Charlie Batch, Matt Hasselbeck, and Joe Flacco. Zorn was the head coach of the Washington Redskins in 2008 and 2009. He is a member of the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor and recently served as a head coach for the 2019 Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii, an all-star game that annually showcases the nation’s top 100 high school players.

About The XFL The XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when it kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020. The new league is committed to delivering a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans, but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. The XFL is committed to building grassroots relationships with local organizations in its host cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

The XFL will launch next year in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C.

Seattle takes an important step toward spring football

Jim Zorn’s name and position on the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor. (Source)

If there is a place where spring football may thrive, it’s Seattle. After all, February weather in Seattle can be downright “spring like,” an important consideration for the potential quality of both the game and the fan experience.

Seattle has the weather, the fans, and a fabulous stadium, and on Monday the Emerald City will be given the name of the first Head Coach and General Manager of Seattle’s XFL franchise.

  • Event: Monday February 25th at 1:00PM Pacific Time. CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

The biggest name rumored to be débuted as Head Coach of XFL Seattle is Jim Zorn.  Zorn will be forever connected to Seattle as he was the first starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, a position he filled from 1976 to 1984. If Zorn is the one who is named on Monday, be sure they will talk about his career in Seattle and his name and position on the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor.

Zorn’s past coaching career includes a less than successful stint with the Washington Redskins, but don’t think that will dissuade Seattle football fans from embracing him. When it comes to football, Zorn will be a welcome sight for Seattleites when he is seen on the sidelines at CenturyLink Field.

Ever since the venerable Kingdome was imploded in March 2000, Seattle’s new gem has been CenturyLink Field. Home to the Seattle Seahawks it will now host Seattle’s XFL team. CenturyLink is an open-air stadium with a capacity of 68,000 under its overhangs that cover about seventy percent of the seating area. It’s perfect for football.  Will the XFL crowd fill the seats? Doubtful, especially in the first season. However, 25,000 fans in the lower bowl would be more than respectful.

CenturyLink Field is notorious for its crowd noise. It twice held the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at an outdoor stadium, first at 136.6 decibels in 2013, followed by a measurement of 137.6 decibels in 2014. It will be interesting to see how an XFL fan crowd will attempt to match these levels.

Monday is an important step to bring spring football to Seattle next February. Soon, Seattle’s team name, logo and colors should be ready to be revealed. Another important step in the process, especially for fans to begin to rally around their new team.

XFL Seattle Head Coach Announcement Monday

Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, future home to Seattle’s XFL franchise.

The XFL has announced it will reveal the Seattle franchise’s Head Coach on Monday 25 February 2019.

  • Event: Monday February 25th at 1:00PM Pacific Time. CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

This announcement will come only four days after XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck announced Pep Hamilton as Head Coach/General Manager of the XFL Washington franchise.

Earlier this week, on St. Louis radio, Luck mentioned the upcoming XFL announcements. “We’ve got a cadence going of about one Head Coach announcement per week and we will get all our markets done by the end in March,” Luck explained.

A week ago, SiriusXM NFL Radio host Alex Marvez tweeted the rumor that former Quarterback and and NFL coach Jim Zorn was rumored to join the XFL as a coach.

It is felt Zorn would be a likely candidate for the XFL Seattle Head Coach/GM position, since he has sports ties to that city and currently resides in the local area.

Zorn is best known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks for their first eight seasons. Afterward, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks before being hired by the Washington Redskins to be their head coach starting in the 2008 season. After leaving Washington, Zorn was hired as quarterbacks coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and later as the quarterbacks’ coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Pep Hamilton to lead XFL Washington

Pep Hamilton (left) and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck (right) (Credit Twitter 

Former NFL and college assistant coach Pep Hamilton is the new Head Coach and General Manager of XFL Washington D.C.

Hamilton’s hiring was officially announced by XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck on Thursday, at Audi Field in Washington D.C.

In the past, Luck knew Hamilton through his son, quarterback Andrew Luck, who was coached by Hamilton both at Stanford and later with the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL.

(View the announcement video below)

YouTube video

 

Pep Hamilton, a Washington D.C. native, recently resigned his position at Michigan. He has plenty of football experience, with eleven seasons coaching in the NFL with the Jets, 49ers, Bears and Colts, and most recently with the 2016 Cleveland Browns.

“I’m excited to join the XFL and lead the team in Washington, a city with which I have a lifelong attachment,” Hamilton stated on Thursday. “I appreciate the confidence Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck have in me, providing an opportunity to be the head coach and placing the football operations of their Washington team in my hands. We plan to put together a terrific, hard-working staff, and a great football team for fans in and around our nation’s capital.”

Pep Hamilton Named XFL Head Coach in Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 21, 2019 – The XFL today announced that Pep Hamilton, who has more than 20 years of experience as a football coach in the NFL and with major college programs, has been named the head coach and general manager of the XFL team in Washington, D.C.

“We are thrilled to welcome Pep Hamilton to the XFL family,” said Oliver Luck, XFL Commissioner & CEO. “Pep, through hard work and dedication, has climbed the coaching ladder in the college and pro ranks, and has earned this opportunity to become a head coach for the first time in his career. It’s meaningful that Pep will lead our team in Washington, where he played quarterback and began his coaching career at Howard University.”

“I’m excited to join the XFL and lead the team in Washington, a city with which I have a lifelong attachment,” said Hamilton. “I appreciate the confidence Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck have in me, providing an opportunity to be the head coach and placing the football operations of their Washington team in my hands. We plan to put together a terrific, hard-working staff, and a great football team for fans in and around our nation’s capital.”

Hamilton, who joins Bob Stoops as a newly-named XFL head coach and general manager, has focused his coaching career on the offensive side of the game. He has coached and developed many outstanding college and professional quarterbacks, including Jay Cutler, Brian Griese, Andrew Luck, and Alex Smith.

Hamilton joins the XFL with more than 10 years of coaching experience across five NFL teams: the Cleveland Browns (2016); Indianapolis Colts (2013-15); Chicago Bears (2007-09); San Francisco 49ers (2006) and New York Jets (2003-05).

With the Browns, Hamilton was the associate head coach on offense, and before that, served three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Colts, who went 22-10 during his first two seasons, winning two AFC South division titles and advancing to the 2014 AFC Championship Game. That season, the Colts set franchise records for passing yards (4,894) and net yards (6,506), with the passing total leading all NFL teams.

During Hamilton’s three seasons in Chicago, he worked as the Bears’ quarterbacks coach and before that was the San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach. He held the same positions with the New York Jets for two seasons after beginning his NFL coaching career as the team’s offensive quality control coach in 2003.

Hamilton’s college career includes two years as the University of Michigan’s assistant head coach and passing game coordinator (2017-18), working with head coach Jim Harbaugh. Hamilton joined Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford in 2010 as the wide receivers coach, then served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2011-12).

He began his coaching career as the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, Howard University, for five seasons (1997-2001). Hamilton added the role of offensive coordinator to his responsibilities during his final three seasons. Hamilton earned his bachelor’s degree in business in 1997 from Howard where he played quarterback from 1993 to 1996, receiving the school’s scholar-athlete award in 1995 and 1996.

About The XFL The XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when it kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020. The new league is committed to delivering a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans, but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. The XFL is committed to building grassroots relationships with local organizations in its host cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

The XFL will launch next year in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C.

Oliver Luck on XFL Broadcast Package, Seattle’s Head Coach Announcement

Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, future home to Seattle’s XFL franchise.

Today, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck was on the Charlie Brennan Show on St. Louis KMOX radio, and gave an update on the progress of league announcements, including a hint Seattle’s Head Coach will be announced next week.

Luck confirmed the league will have a 10-game season starting the weekend after the Super Bowl, followed by two semi-final games in week eleven, and the championship game at the end of April.

The XFL Commissioner also mentioned the upcoming XFL broadcast package. “We are very close to announcing a very strong broadcast package,” Luck said. “Two of the four games will be broadcast over-the-air, terrestrial, major carriers, and the remaining two games will be broadcast over cable, but fully distributed cable sports brands people will recognize.”

Luck also talked about the upcoming XFL announcements. “We’ve got a cadence going of about one Head Coach announcement per week and we will get all our markets done by the end in March,” Luck explained. “At some point, probably in April, we will be able to launch the team names, team colors, identity and logos.”

This seems to be a change in the timeline, since, in past interviews, Luck had hinted the team names and colors may be revealed in March.

As for Seattle, Luck revealed next week the XFL would be in Seattle to announce the team’s Head Coach. It has been rumored former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn is being touted for the job.