Fans will get to call the plays for Johnny Manziel in new football league

Memphis Express quarterback Johnny Manziel warms up before an AAF football game on March 24, 2019.
Memphis Express quarterback Johnny Manziel warms up before an Alliance of American Football game against the Birmingham Iron on March 24, 2019.
(Wade Payne / Associated Press)

Johnny Manziel is back in another football league, and this time he gets to be himself.

It remains to be seen whether that’s a good or bad thing, but Fan Controlled Football is betting on the former.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round NFL draft pick will be calling the signals for a team called the Zappers when the four-team startup league begins its inaugural season in February.

As the name suggests, the league will emphasize public participation. Fans already have chosen the team names and logos and will be given the opportunity to help create rosters and call plays.


During the games — which will be 7-on-7 and will take place on a 50-yard field — Manziel will be livestreaming with a microphone and camera on his helmet.

Johnny Manziel wasted no time in dropping a bombshell during an interview Monday on the “Dan Patrick Show.”

April 8, 2019

“This has a lot of potential to just be a good time and still be football-centric,” Manziel told ESPN. “They’re going to let the people [in] this league be who they are and have fun with it and be a little bit more free than what football is sometimes. That’s definitely what appealed to me. They don’t want me to change who I am or anything else. They want to come out, put a good product out and be fun with it.”

While Manziel’s oversized personality might have contributed to his failure as an NFL quarterback, FCF co-founder and CEO Sohrob Farudi told ESPN that trait should work well in a league that encourages fans to interact with the athletes on a personal level.

“I think if you look at Johnny’s career, he was electric on and off the field,” Farudi said of Manziel, who also has played in the Alliance of American Football, the Canadian Football League and the Spring League. “He has that big, bold personality. Sure, he rubbed some people the wrong way. But he just has this presence about him. ...

“We’re very comfortable with having players be big personalities off the field and doing what they want to do. For us, it’s as much as about the off-field opportunities to connect with the fan base as it is about the football on the field.”