Kevin Seifert describes how Johnny Manziel is getting back on the field in a startup league called Fan Controlled Football (0:40)

Johnny Manziel has agreed to pursue his career in a startup league called Fan Controlled Football, he told ESPN this week

The league, due to begin playing in February, features 7v7 games where fans set rosters, call games, and interact in a mix of traditional and esports environments

“The more I heard about what this was going to be, the more I felt that it was going to be something that was just very funny,” said Manziel. “It will be very fan-centric and something I could get over with without being extreme, extreme, extremely serious, like my football career was in the past””

Manziel, 28, was linked to the co-founder and CEO of FCF, Sohrob Farudi, through comedian Bob Menery, a mutual friend.Manziel last played football for the Alliance of American Football in April 2019 and has also played in the Spring League and the Canadian Football League since he was released by the Cleveland Browns in 2015

He said this week that he didn’t want to return to football at any level, but would play the FCF version on his own terms.Since the AAF collapsed, Manziel has moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he said he plays golf , throw the soccer ball with friends in the garden, watch soccer at the weekend and have a “normal, relaxed lifestyle” for the duration of 2020

“Life sometimes gives you the opportunity to do something that you would still like to do if it were in a different role,” said Manziel. “That has a lot of potential to just be a good time and still be football-oriented You will leave the people who join this league as they are, have fun with it and be a little bit freer than what football is sometimes that definitely appealed to me you don’t want me to change who I am or anything else you want to come out with, bring out a good product, and have fun with it “

Farudi said the league will place great emphasis on connecting fans with players’ lives off the field via social media or other digital integration, in order to build them “for a man like” Manziel

“It’s not just what you can do on the field, it’s who you are off the field,” Farudi said. “We want them to connect with the fans and be authentic I think if you do looking at Johnny’s career, he’s been electric on and off the field. He’s got this big, brave personality. Sure, he’s rubbed some people the wrong way. But he’s just got that presence around

“He got into those other leagues and I hate to say that, but it’s like the handcuffs were being put on You had to act differently You had to walk and talk differently He couldn’t just be himself Here we want being different as a league We embrace this idea of ​​being more than an athlete. We feel very comfortable when players are great personalities off the field and do what they want. For us, it’s both about the opportunities off the field, getting on with to join the fan base as well as to the soccer ball on the field “

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, Manziel, was the No. 22 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.He played for the Browns in 14 games in two seasons, but problems off the field and an inattention to his job prompted the Browns To cut ties with him, Manziel said in 2018 that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and abused alcohol to fight depression, episodes that often found their way onto social media, or that he himself was there had posted

When asked where he is now on a personal level, Manziel said, “I wake up with a smile on my face more than I used to when people said I had everything. It’s funny how life works sometimes You have it all and can be upset, and when you have a lot less you can be a lot happier.I am at a point in my life where I am 28 years old and I am still trying to figure out what I am doing about one Restoring identity, and that’s what last year was all about for me “

The main investor in the FCF is Lightspeed Venture Partners.The league starts out with four teams, each of which will have prominent owners, including NFL players Richard Sherman, Austin Ekeler, and retired Marshawn Lynch.Other owners are the hip-hop artist Quavo, the boxers Mike Tyson and Menery

The teams are playing a six-week schedule of games that will be streamed live on Twitch from a facility in Atlanta rented by a league. The games will last approximately an hour and the field will be 50 by 35 yards with 10-yard end zones The players have a background in Division I and II programs, as well as in the CFL, XFL, and Indoor Football League. The FCF recently received an engagement from former Florida State and Hampton quarterback Deondre Francois

Farudi described the league’s vision as “gamifying” the fan experience aimed at the 18- to 35-year-old age group. Fans who register will participate in much of the football operations

“The younger generation doesn’t have a three-hour game anymore,” said Farudi. “They want it quick and easy. Part of our concept is, ‘Let’s give it to them quick and easy’ It’s an hour-long game. It’s interactive. You watch and interact at the same time “

Johnny Manziel

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