Johnny Manziel Says He's Interested in Playing for XFL's Houston Franchise

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2019

Memphis Express quarterback Johnny Manziel throws to a receiver during warms ups before an AAF football game against the Birmingham Iron, Sunday, March 24, 2019, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press

Quarterback Johnny Manziel has interest in continuing his professional football career in the XFL, which is set to begin play in February.

Johnny Football said Saturday at the TriStar collectors show in Houston that he would like to play for the XFL's Houston franchise, according to ESPN.com.

Manziel, who played his college ball at nearby Texas A&M University, mentioned Houston's proximity to A&M as a reason for his desire to play there: "It's a stone's throw from College Station. A lot of Aggies drove from Houston to College Station. Houston's a great city that'll always be near and dear to me."

The 26-year-old Manziel last saw game action in March for the Alliance of American Football's Memphis Express before the league suspended operations.

Prior to his two-game stint in the AAF, Manziel appeared in eight games for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes last year. In those games, Manziel completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,290 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 215 yards.

Manziel initially signed with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but he was traded to Montreal after serving as Jeremiah Masoli's backup.

While in Hamilton, Manziel played under head coach June Jones. XFL Houston has since hired Jones as its head coach, and Manziel expressed excitement over the possibility of being reunited with the offensive guru: "Coach Jones is a great guy. I enjoyed him from an offensive standpoint, from a personal standpoint. He's been there for me, especially when I was in Hamilton, getting to a new place, a different country. I enjoyed my time with him very thoroughly, and I think it would be a great opportunity."

The XFL has a policy against signing players with a criminal record. Manziel had a domestic violence charge against him dropped in 2017, and XFL commissioner Oliver Luck told Pro Football Talk in April that Manziel has not been ruled out from joining the league, per ESPN.com.

After winning a Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M and enjoying one of the best two-year careers for a quarterback in college football history, Manziel was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

In two seasons with the Browns, Manziel went 2-6 as a starter and threw for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 259 yards and one score.

Following his release from Cleveland, Manziel spent two years out of football before signing with the Tiger-Cats.

If Manziel does not land with Houston, he also expressed interest in playing for the XFL's Dallas franchise.