Johnny Manziel

After a lot of rumors, Vince McMahon officially announced the XFL’s return Thursday. But one player who looks unlikely to be in the league when it returns is former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, last seen in contract negotiations with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and also selling #ComebackSZN hoodies.

Manziel has long been discussed as a potential player who could be a fit for an alternative league given the NFL’s lack of interest in him at this point and his still-high name recognition, but McMahon made it clear in his XFL interviews that “if you have any sort of a criminal record or commit a crime, you aren’t playing in this league.”

Manziel’s criminal charges in a domestic violence case were dismissed thanks to a plea deal where he agreed to attend counselling, so it’s unclear if that counts, but when asked specifically about out-of-football quarterbacks Manziel, Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow, McMahon made it sound like he wasn’t high on the first two (despite Kaepernick having no criminal charges against him, McMahon’s also said he’ll force all players to stand for the national anthem, so it doesn’t sound like he’s a Kaepernick fan):

“You want someone who does not have any criminality associated whatsoever with them. Even if you have a DUI you will not play in the XFL,” McMahon told reporters. “So that will probably eliminate some of them. Not all of them. If Tim Tebow wants to play, he can very well play.”

This led to Manziel seeing he was trending along with the XFL and Barstool Sports, and tweeting at Barstool founder Dave Portnoy about it:

Manziel then lobbied McMahon for a job:

And then asked Portnoy for a job:

But he then said he was joking:

Judging by a Manziel tweet earlier this week, he hasn’t given up on playing football this year either:

Whether Manziel will play in the CFL remains up for debate, though. The Tiger-Cats hold his CFL rights and offered him a contract earlier this month. Manziel’s agent Erik Burkhardt demanded that he be paid “like Hamilton’s previous quarterback” (Zach Collaros, who signed one of the highest contracts in the league after a few successful years, but then lost his job last year and was traded to Saskatchewan this offseason), though, which was pretty much a non-starter for a guy without any CFL experience and one many league observers aren’t convinced will be an instant success.

Burkhardt has since said the team has a January 31 deadline to give Manziel a “fair deal” or Manziel’s camp will turn their focus “to several other professional options readily available to us,”but Tiger-Cats general manager Eric Tillman has said they’re going to be patient. The team clearly seems to want Manziel, with head coach June Jones even making the much-derided statement that Manziel would be the CFL’s best player ever, but it’s a question of how much they’re willing to offer him and if he’s willing to take it. The CFL looks like the highest level of football he can get into at the moment, but there are other non-football options out there for a celebrity of Manziel’s status, and maybe the Barstool thing isn’t all that much of a joke.

In any case, his CFL prospects seem better than his XFL chances, at least for now.

[Johnny Manziel on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.