Free-agent quarterback Johnny Manziel is expressing interest in the XFL’s new Houston team, saying he would relish the chance to play in his home state and be reunited with coach June Jones.
While appearing at the TriStar collectors show in Houston on Saturday, Manziel discussed his XFL possibilities with multiple reporters. He told the Houston Chronicle that part of his interest would be based on the proximity to Texas A&M, where he was a Heisman Trophy winner.
“It’s a stone’s throw from College Station,” Manziel said. “A lot of Aggies drove from Houston to College Station. Houston’s a great city that’ll always be near and dear to me.”
After two seasons out of professional football, Manziel signed with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year and played under Jones, a former NFL and college quarterback and coach. Manziel told Fox 26 that it would be “very cool” to play for Jones once again.
“Coach Jones is a great guy,” Manziel said. “I enjoyed him from an offensive standpoint, from a personal standpoint. He’s been there for me, especially when I was in Hamilton, getting to a new place, a different country. I enjoyed my time with him very thoroughly, and I think it would be a great opportunity.”
Manziel also said he would be willing to play for the XFL’s Dallas franchise, telling the Chronicle that he was intrigued that the league has two Texas teams.
The 26-year-old Manziel has previously addressed playing in the XFL, which is slated to begin play in February 2020. He told TMZ in April that he would be open to “any football options,” including the resurrected league that operated for one season in 2001.
On May 20, Jones said Manziel “played very good for me” in Hamilton and that he expected the quarterback to be in the XFL draft pool.
Manziel never played in a game under Jones in Canada and was ultimately traded to the Montreal Alouettes, where he played in eight contests before his contract was terminated.
There had been some question about Manziel’s eligibility for the XFL, which has a policy excluding players with a criminal record from the league. Manziel had faced a domestic violence charge after he was accused of hitting and threatening his ex-girlfriend in January 2016. Those charges were dismissed in November 2017. But commissioner Oliver Luck told the PFT PM podcast in April that Manziel wasn’t ruled out from joining the league.
Drafted 22nd overall in the 2014 NFL draft, the XFL would be Manziel’s fourth professional league since leaving Texas A&M after the 2013 season. In 2018, he was kicked out of the CFL for violating the terms of his agreement with the league, while the AAF folded less than a month after he joined the league.
“I think I’m in a good place personally. I think I’ve been doing the right things,” Manziel told Fox 26. “When the opportunity presents itself moving forward, we’ll see how things go.”