Johnny Manziel Would Be Welcome to Play Arena Football, Says AFL Commissioner

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 2, 2016

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel speaks with media members following the team's 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game, in Seattle. Manziel has been suspended for the first four games of next season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.The suspension announced Thursday, June 30, 2016, is not related to the NFL's domestic violence policy, but the free agent quarterback would be subject to it if he signs with another team. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund, File)
Scott Eklund/Associated Press

Johnny Manziel may not have a future in the NFL, but the former Heisman winner can rest easy knowing the Arena Football League is a fallback option.  

AFL Commissioner Scott Butera told TMZ Sports that the league would open its doors—and arms—if Manziel wanted to play football. 

"We could provide a strong platform for him to demonstrate that he is back," Butera said. "We would also work with him and provide him whatever help he needed to live a healthy life."

TMZ added that it had contacted Manziel to ask about his interest in playing arena football but had not received a response. 

Right now, he has more important matters to deal with. He told the celebrity gossip site earlier in the week that he planned to go sober starting July 1. 

ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler spoke to a source close to Manziel who said his plan to get clean was sincere: "He's talked for a while about knuckling down, getting ready and working out. It's more about health and having options and feeling good. If that works out for this season, great. But if not, that's OK too."

On Thursday, the NFL announced it had suspended Manziel for four games stemming from a violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He is also subject to further discipline under the league's personal conduct policy as the result of his domestic violence case that has been sent to a grand jury. 

The Cleveland Browns, who drafted Manziel in the first round two years ago, released the troubled quarterback in March. There has been no indication thus far that any NFL team is considering signing him. 

In fact, Fowler noted in a separate report that the 23-year-old Manziel believes his best shot at getting back in the league will be in 2017. 

Players have used the AFL as a springboard to NFL fame in the past. Kurt Warner famously went from playing with the Iowa Barnstormers to winning the NFL MVP award twice. 

Of course, few players come with the kind of off-field baggage Manziel has. He may hope for a second shot at playing in the NFL, but his current state of affairs indicates he should focus on getting his life straight before thinking about sports. 


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