Johnny Manziel failed to get his career off the ground in the NFL, CFL, or any other professional league he attempted to play for, but that doesn’t mean he’s done trying.
The Heisman Trophy winner and former Texas A&M Aggie has agreed to play for a fan controlled startup league. The league, known as Fan Controlled Football, will feature 7-on-7 games where fans control rosters and call plays.
“The more I heard about what this was going to be, the more I felt it was going to be something that was just very fun,” Manziel said. “It’s going to be very fan-oriented and something I could get behind without being extremely, extremely, extremely serious, the way that my football career has been in the past.”
Manziel, 28, last played pro football in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. Since then, he’s moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, and lives what he calls a “normal, laid-back lifestyle.”
“Life gives you opportunities sometimes to do something that you would still like to do if it was in a different capacity,” Manziel explained. “This has a lot of potential to just be a good time and still be football-centric. They’re going to let the people [who] join this league be who they are and have fun with it and be a little bit more free than what football is sometimes. That’s definitely what appealed to me. They don’t want me to change who I am or anything else. They want to come out, put a good product out and be fun with it.”
As FCF Co-Founder Sohrob Farudi explains, the league is based on establishing a connection between fans and players.
“It’s not only what you can do on the field, but who you are off the field,” Farudi said. “We want them to connect to fans and be authentic. I think if you look at Johnny’s career, he was electric on and off the field. He has that big, bold personality. Sure, he rubbed some people the wrong way. But he just has this presence about him.
“He got into these other leagues and, I hate to say this, but it’s like the handcuffs were put on. You had to act differently. You had to walk and talk differently. He couldn’t just be himself. That’s where we want to be different as a league. We’re really embracing this idea of being more than an athlete. … We’re very comfortable with having players be big personalities off the field and doing what they want to do. For us, it’s as much as about the off-field opportunities to connect with the fan base as it is about the football on the field.”
As ESPN reports, “The teams will play a six-week schedule, with games livestreamed on Twitch from a league-leased facility in Atlanta. The games will last about an hour, and the field will be 50-by-35 yards with 10-yard end zones. Players will have backgrounds in college Division I and II programs, along with the CFL, XFL and Indoor Football League. The FCF recently received a commitment from former Florida State and Hampton quarterback Deondre Francois.”
Mike Tyson, Marshwan Lynch, and Richard Sherman, are among the league’s celebrity owners.