John Manziel could potentially end up in the XFL if he can convince a team that he’s ready and able to meet the league’s unspecified “standards” according to commissioner Oliver Luck.
“If he is able to meet our standards and if our coaches think he’s one of the top quarterbacks out there that can help us. Certainly we have no reason not to believe he couldn’t be in the mix. But again it’s really up to our coaches in terms of the quarterbacks they wanna take a look at,” Luck told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
That’s a departure from what league founder and wrestling mogul Vince McMahon said in January 2018. In response to a question about Manziel, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick being invited to play in the league, McMahon said players with a criminal history – and Manziel was involved in an incident of domestic violence – would be excluded from playing.
“When I said the quality of human being is very important and just as important as the quality of the player what I mean by that you want someone who does not have any criminality whatsoever associated with them,” McMahon said. “In the XFL, even if you have a DUI you will not play in the XFL. That would probably eliminate some of them, not all of them.”
In December, 2017, the CFL issued a statement which said it had been engaged in a thorough process to determine the eligibility of Manziel, whose CFL rights were held by Hamilton at the time. That process included an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence (the CFL has a formal policy on violence against women), a review by legal counsel, and an in-person discussion conducted by the commissioner, Randy Ambrosie.
The league stated then that it was prepared to approve a contract for Manziel provided one was negotiated and he continued to meet a number of conditions set by the league. While those conditions were confidential, out of respect for laws governing personal privacy, they were extensive and exacting.
The Montreal Alouettes were directed by the CFL in late February to release Manziel after it was found that he contravened the agreement which made him eligible to play in the league. And the CFL has informed all of its member clubs that it will not register a contract for Manziel should any franchise attempt to sign him.
Manziel was acquired in a blockbuster in-season trade last year when the Alouettes sent Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman, receiver Chris Williams and two first round draft picks to the Ticats for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
Due an off-season bonus of $75,000 from the Als on March 1, Manziel could have made $202,000 in base salary with $18,000 housing and $150,000 more possible from playtime incentives. That money had been available on the final year of Manziel’s two-year contract originally signed with the Ticats last May.
Montreal made the deal for Manziel to become the starting quarterback for the Als. He passed for 1,290 yards, five touchdowns versus seven interceptions and rushed 29 times for 215 yards ending the season 2-6 as Montreal’s starter. Manziel had not thrown a pass in a pro game since December 2015 and coming to Canada was his comeback to football.
Manziel’s professional career has been marred by controversy, released by Cleveland just two seasons after the Browns selected him in the first round, the Ticats didn’t want to put up with his antics and sent the troubled QB to Montreal. The league punted Manziel who ended up in the AAF just two weeks prior to the league folding.
Even if the XFL wants Manziel to meet its standards, the history shows he can say all the right things to appease people upon entering a new league, but can’t sustain the good boy act very long.