Why isn’t Johnny Manziel in the XFL? Explaining the league’s lack of interest in the well-traveled QB

If you’re watching the start of the XFL season, you may be wondering why Johnny Manziel, the talented but troubled former first-round NFL Draft pick, isn’t on a roster.

Manziel has bounced around some other football leagues after he was released by the Browns, including the CFL and the now-defunct AAF. Manziel ended up playing for the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football league before suffering a concussion. The league folded three days after his second game appearance.

So naturally, with a new football league on the horizon, many expected Manziel to be a player worth considering in the XFL. But he was facing an uphill battle as it appears the XFL was not interested in having Manziel.

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Is the XFL interested in Johnny Manziel?

Johnny Manziel

It doesn’t appear so. When the XFL held its player draft, Manziel wasn’t even a player that was given a commissioner’s invite. At least, we can safely assume that’s the case. We at least know he didn’t accept an invite, but he mentioned in the past he was interested in the league, so it seems if he was given an invite he would have accepted it.

And XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said the league doesn’t really need Manziel. He was asked by the Tampa Bay Times why Manziel and Trent Richardson weren’t drafted. Richardson did receive a commissioner’s invite and was eligible to be drafted.

“I would argue that the players we have are better than those guys, to be honest with you. Johnny has his own history, and we have coaches from the CFL (Canadian Football League) who have seen him close up. I watched Trent when he was with the Colts, and I watched him when he was with the AAF. He was in the draft pool. Coaches and scouts looked at him and didn’t think he was going to help their team. I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”

Luck was asked several months ahead of the XFL Draft by USA Today about Manziel and his answer basically explains why the quarterback was never put in the draft pool.

“If eight [coaches] say, ‘we’d like that guy in the league,’ we’ll put him in the league, or put him in the draft pool.” Luck said. “Whether teams draft him, that’s up to the individual head coaches.”

In other words, there wasn’t enough interest from other coaches in the XFL to send an invite to Manziel.

Daryl Johnston, director of player personnel for the Dallas Renegades, told the Dallas Morning News why he had no interest in signing Manziel.

“For me the chemistry in the locker room is critical, and especially the quarterback position. He kind of sets the tone, especially for the offensive side of the ball, but really for the whole team. There is so much added responsibility that goes with the face, goes with the voice of the franchise. And I haven’t seen that from Johnny on a consistent basis that I would feel comfortable committing to him.”

Is Johnny Manziel interested in the XFL?

This was several months ago (June, 2019), but Manziel did express interest in the XFL.

“It would be very cool (to reunite),” Manziel told KRIV-TV, referring to June Jones, coach of the Houston Roughnecks. “Coach Jones is a great guy. 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. … I leave a lot of that stuff up to my agent. We’ll just let those things play out, you know? I think I’m in a good place personally. I’ve been doing the right things. When the opportunity presents itself moving forward, we’ll see how things go.”

Also, during Vince McMahon’s announcement of the new football league, Manziel tweeted about the XFL.

But the night before the start of the XFL season, Manziel sounded bitter about not being in the league. One of his followers asked if Manziel planned to play in the XFL, and he referred back to Luck’s quote about not being good enough to play in the league.

He then continued to tweet by mocking the XFL, saying the league was going to fold like the AAF did.

So at this point it seems highly unlikely Manziel will get a chance to play in the XFL.

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