Memphis Express fans can’t get enough of Johnny Manziel. But the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback seems to have had enough of that.
Manziel was signed by the Express on March 16 and made his Alliance of American Football debut Sunday night. He played three series during the game against the Birmingham Iron, completing three of five passes for 40 yards and rushing twice for 20 yards.
But Brandon Silvers started and finished at quarterback for Memphis and was the real hero for the team. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns — a seven-yarder to Reece Horn to tie the game late in regulation and a 10-yarder to receiver Dan Williams in overtime — in a 31-25 Express victory.
Nonetheless, it was Manziel that the fans came to see, and they made sure their preference was known throughout the game. They chanted his name, got whipped into a frenzy whenever he’d make a play and booed mercilessly when Silvers reentered the game, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Manziel wasn’t happy about the way Silvers was treated.
“I don’t go out and round people up and say, ‘Will you guys go out and chant, “We want Johnny” all day?’” said Manziel, who was released by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes last month. “To put that pressure on him and him have to go out there and deal with that and handle it the way he did was top-notch. I’m kind of sick of that a little bit. Let it play out.”
Silvers was a good sport about the situation.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been booed on the field, but maybe in a home game,” said Silvers, a former standout at Troy making his first start for the Express. “But you kind of expect that. You kind of got to. Johnny Manziel is a Heisman winner. He’s well-accomplished. If he was on another team, I’d be looking in to watch him play.”
The fans aren’t entirely to blame. The team helped fuel the mania by giving away Manziel T-shirts for anyone who spent $30 on tickets, and replicas of the backup QB’s jersey for anyone who spent $90.