Ever since the XFL reboot in 2018, names like Johnny Manziel, Colin Kaepernick, and Tim Tebow have bounced around as possible star players in the new reborn league. At the same time, Vince McMahon was very adamant about not having players in his league with questionable backgrounds. The player he was mostly referring to was Johnny Manziel.
Ever since Manziel was cut by the CFL and played briefly in the AAF, the question was, would he wind up in the XFL?
When June Jones was hired as the first-ever Houston Roughnecks head coach/GM, he was asked if there was interest in the former Heisman Trophy winner who he worked with in the CFL.
Jones said, “He played very good from me”. He went on to say that he expects to see Johnny Manziel in the XFL draft pool this year as long as the league finds him to be Ok.
Based on newly released court documents, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reports, there was no chance for Manziel to play in the XFL. The league was never interested in Manziel, mainly because of its owner Vince McMahon.
McMahon’s lack of interest in Manziel is nothing new except that McMahon was getting increasingly frustrated with Oliver Luck for not putting that subject to rest. Here is the text exchange from the court docs.
“How long R U going to play this game Oliver? U know there is NO CHANCE IN HELL for Manziel to play for us. I will NOT change my mind. So what’s Ur plan??”
Luck let McMahon know that he had no intention of signing the troubled QB; it was just a marketing ploy.
“Vince – we have no intention of signing him, none whatsoever. We’re just milking the story to stay in the news. I’m happy to categorically rule him out but both Jeffrey and I think it is worthwhile to milk it until the showcases are finished (July 12). At that point we can say he doesn’t fit into our plans.”
But that wasn’t the end of the Manziel talk, June Jones said, in early September leading up to the XFL draft.
“Johnny Manziel is probably on five lists and was on one of mine.”
The league’s milking of Manziel’s name is not surprising, nor is it really wrong. The league is trying to make a name for itself, and the press and fans are asking. To stay in the news, you have to do that. After the XFL draft, Manziel was one of several names not drafted, and the XFL put the subject to rest.
The real issue is the subject of Manziel was one of several reported rifts between McMahon and Luck leading up to the kickoff of the 2020 season. The controversial signing of WR Antonio Callaway to the Tampa Bay Vipers is another.
As this legal proceeding unfolds further, we should learn more about how the promising partnership between Oliver Luck and Vince McMahon became more fractured and ultimately led to where we are now, which is in court.
In the end, Manziel is now with Fan Controlled Football, which is set to kick off their inaugural season in February. Callaway signed with the Maimi Dolphins and was cut before the end of the season.
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