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Johnny Manziel to play second season in Fan Controlled Football, says traditional pro career ‘in my eyes is over’

Johnny Manziel is returning for the second season of a professional league known as Fan Controlled Football, he told ESPN.

The league, which plays a 7-on-7 format in an Atlanta indoor facility, is scheduled to resume games April 16. It incorporates fan engagement in a blend of traditional and esports environments and is broadcast primarily on Twitch.

Manziel told ESPN that his formal football career “in my eyes is over” but that the FCF is something “I wanted to do for fun.” He has friendships with a number of the league’s celebrity owners, including comedian/podcaster Bob Menery and rapper Quavo.

“This is a way to go out and compete and have fun on a way smaller scale,” Manziel said. “I don’t have the drive to play football at a high level anymore. I don’t have a drive to be the best football player anymore that I used to have in my life, and I’m OK with that. I’ve come to terms with what my football career was, and what it is, and now I’m trying to figure out how I can stay entangled in the game, but from a different position.

“[FCF] is not trying to build this on my back and make me be the main focus point. I feel like I’m simply there to help bring a little bit of magic and a little bit of entertainment, but on a way different scale than the past.”

Manziel, 29, won the 2012 Heisman Trophy while playing at Texas A&M and was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2014. His NFL career lasted only two years.

He said in 2018 that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had abused alcohol while living with depression.

“I don’t have the drive to play football at a high level anymore. I don’t have a drive to be the best football player anymore that I used to have in my life, and I’m OK with that.”

Johnny Manziel

Manziel spent time in 2018 with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes, signed with the AAF’s Memphis Express in 2019 and played for the FCF’s Zappers in 2021.

“I had an ample amount of opportunities to put my career on a different path, and for whatever reason it was, whether it was me being young or just not seeing life through the right lens at that point in time, I squandered a good opportunity,” Manziel said. “The more I look back on my life and continue to reflect and try to bury some things and put some things in the past, that’s one thing that I decided to do, was to let [football] go and let that be what it is. Life goes the way it goes sometimes.”

In January, the FCF said it secured a $40 million Series A raise to play for the next two seasons. The league has expanded from four to eight teams for 2022. Its co-founder is entrepreneur Sohrob Farudi, and other celebrity owners include NFL players Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, Richard Sherman and retired Marshawn Lynch.

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