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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.

Mark Nelson reports on XFL football for, and is the host of the XFL Xtra podcast. As the founder and owner of, he has been following the league since February 2000. Please feel free to contact Mark if you have an idea for a story, or to suggest a guest for the podcast. Email: Twitter:

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