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Johnny Manziel Not Treating FCF as 'Stepping Stone' in Return to Football

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 12, 2021

Memphis Express quarterback Johnny Manziel celebrates as he leaves the field after a Birmingham Iron at Memphis Express AAF football game, Sunday, March 24, 2019, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. against the Memphis won in overtime 31-25. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press

Johnny Manziel may be back playing football, but he's not back back. 

Now the franchise quarterback for the Fan Controlled Football league's Zappers, the former college football star is using the six-week season to have fun on the gridiron. He's not plotting a full comeback. 

“I’m not treating this as a stepping stone to get back into football,” Manziel told Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I always have the feeling of chucking the ball around with my boys in the backyard. It’s a fast-paced game, a lot of points, some big hits, from what I’ve seen the past couple days of practice.”

The FCF is played seven-on-seven using an indoor, 50-yard field with fans on Twitch calling in the plays. There are no special teams—no punts or field goals, either—and every team starts at its own 10-yard line. Instead of a point-after attempt following touchdowns, an extra point will be decided by a one-on-one battle between a wideout and defensive back.

Defenses are drafted as a unit, and the league uses a running clock.

Here's how the drafts work, per the FCF website:

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"Every Wednesday on Twitch you will be able to vote in a live player draft to build your team's roster. Teams get two franchise players [selected by Team Owners] and fans get one keeper after the first game. The rest of the guys are back in the player pool for the draft each week."

Further rules and information available via FCF.io.

The FCF is the fourth pro football organization Manziel has played for, including his stints in the NFL and Canadian Football League.

He's no stranger to startup football leagues, either. The last time Manziel played professional football came in 2019 as a member of the Alliance of American Football's Memphis Express. That league lasted just eight games before declaring for bankruptcy in April 2019.

The former Texas A&M quarterback completed five of eight passes for 61 yards and an interception in two games with the Express.

Playing opportunities have been limited for the former Heisman Trophy winner. Once a first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014, Manziel agreed to undergo counseling as a part of a plea deal in 2016 after his former girlfriend said he struck her multiple times.

The Browns had released him earlier that year, and he would have been suspended for four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy if he had returned to the NFL.

"I think I learned a lot of lessons that I never would've learned if my career kept rising to what it could've been," Manziel said. "It's always cool for me to support guys who are still grinding it out and still dream. I try to be the voice of reason: Even though this might be different than what you expected, you still have a position here to get film and maybe it gets you the opportunity to further your football career."

Now 28 years old, the quarterback is back on the field again. He's just not looking to make a full-time career of it. 

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