Johnny Manziel is officially back playing football in the United States after a brief stint in the CFL with the Hamilton Tigers-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes, he now finds himself on the roster of the Memphis Express of the developmental Alliance of American Football league.
The former 22nd overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL draft has another opportunity to continue his playing career and take another step towards his attempt to get back into the National Football league even though he flamed out after just two seasons of poor play and even worse transgressions off the field.
In his first taste of action in the AAF, he showed some glimpses of the dynamic ability that made him one of the best players in college football history and the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy in 2012.
The Express faced off against the Birmingham Iron and their top-ranked defense on Sunday night and would come back late to force overtime and end up winning 31-25. While Manziel did not start, he would enter the game for the first time midway through the second quarter with the team trailing 16-8.
When he checked into the game the stadium erupted with cheers as many of them came t the game in hopes of seeing the exciting playmaking quarterback that dazzled them during his time in college at Texas A&M. On his first play, he pulled the ball out of the belly of running back Zac Stacy on a read option and took off to the right for 12 yards and a first down and the crowd exploded with adulation yet again.
His first passing attempt was a beautifully placed pass down the right sideline, but it would bounce off the hands of his intended receiver and fall incomplete. His first completion came just a few plays later when he floated the ball to a wide-open receiver for a 36-yard dart down the left sideline after going through his progressions.
He would only play three drives on the day and finish the game 3-of-5 for 48 yards through the air and added another 20 on the ground. Manziel made plays with both his arm and his legs in his sample size of action. He took off to pick up some yards on the ground when his receivers weren’t open and was able to diagnose coverage and read the defense as well.
Nobody is saying “Johnny Football” is back or that he will even be able to complete his comeback anytime soon, but he did show some glimpses of what made him such an entertaining player to watch in his limited action.