- Jason Miller/Getty Images
- Johnny Manziel appeared to express interest in joining Vince McMahon’s newly announced reboot of the XFL in 2020.
- Unfortunately for Manziel, just moments after his plea, McMahon specified that the league would have specific character requirements that would most likely bar Manziel from ever playing.
On Thursday, Vince McMahon announced his intention to bring back the XFL in 2020.
The opening kickoff of the revamped league is still a long way off. But one ex-NFL player was already thinking about staging a comeback of his own, only to be almost immediately rejected by McMahon.
Just a few minutes into McMahon’s press conference announcing plans to reboot the XFL, Johnny Manziel gave the league a shoutout on Twitter, presumably expressing interest in playing in it.
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) January 25, 2018
On paper, the pairing would make sense for both parties.
The XFL will have to stock up on high-profile, non-NFL talent if it wants to draw interest. At the same time, Manziel, the first-round draft pick whose career was derailed by off-field issues, has been attempting to mount a football comeback for some time. Most recently he was negotiating terms for a potential contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
Instead, Manziel’s XFL dreams were almost immediately shut down.
As McMahon’s press conference continued, he addressed some of the other platitudes that the XFL would abide by, including a surprisingly strong stance on player character.
“The quality of the human being is very important and just as important as the quality of the player,” he said. “You want someone who does not have any criminality associated with him whatsoever … Even if you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL.”
With Manziel’s history and record, it’s unlikely he would qualify should the league actually choose to enforce such strict standards on player behavior.
Many on Twitter were quick to point that out.
Well that’s awkward pic.twitter.com/13MFAXgpLA
— ryan (@ryanmjb) January 25, 2018
And he's gone again pic.twitter.com/tCGH7764Kb
— Cats In Space (@AnthonyTRomano) January 25, 2018
Sorry Johnny, you’re not invited. pic.twitter.com/3C7iSW4BHq
— High & Outside Sports (@HighandOutside_) January 25, 2018
That said, ESPN’s Darren Rovell would later clarify that no official decision had yet been made on Manziel’s eligibility.
Clarification: Johnny Manziel has not been specifically ruled out of playing in the XFL at this time.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 25, 2018
With the XFL not scheduled to start until 2020 and few plans clearly set in stone, there’s plenty of time for McMahon to have a change of heart and figure out some way to get Manziel involved in the league. He’s one of the most high-profile football players outside of the NFL, and would certainly help the XFL garner interest in its early days.
We’ll see where things stand when 2020 comes around, but for now, if you’re looking to support a former NFL quarterback to captain your XFL team, chances are you’ll have better luck trying to get Tim Tebow to give up minor league baseball.