Johnny Manziel will play his second game Saturday this season in the Fan Controlled Football League (FCF), a professional indoor league created in 2017, where all of the games are played at the Pullman Yards in Atlanta, Georgia.
In his third league since his last game with the NFL Cleveland Browns in 2015, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was thoroughly criticized for his brash on-the-field and off-the-field party antics.
Manziel recently stated to the AP, “I learned way more through the downfall than I ever did through the rise on the way up.”
“I look back and for a while looked at my life in a way that I reflected and kind of had regret on. I don’t feel that way anymore,” added Manziel. “I got an amazing opportunity to go to Texas A&M, to get drafted in the NFL. That career didn’t go the way exactly I wanted to, but I learned a lot about life through that journey up and through that journey down.”
Manziel was selected in the first round 22nd overall by the Browns in the 2014 NFL draft, and played two difficult and drama-filled seasons making more headlines for his troubles off the field, which included alcohol rehab and a domestic violence charge.
“I’m very grateful for where I’m at in my life right now, and I can look back and say I’m at peace completely with all of my football career,” said the 29-year-old Manziel.
Manziel started in eight games for the Browns, with a 2–6 record throwing seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 2014–15.
“For me, it was fun. I got to live an amazing journey in the game of football. It introduced me to a numerous amount of people all over the world. So, I’m thankful for my ride and continue to try and be involved in the game in some way, shape, or form.”
Sohrob Farudi, co-founder and CEO of FCF, appreciates Manziel’s personal growth.
“I have nothing but respect for Johnny and the way he’s handled himself with us,” Farudi said. “I’m really happy that he has found that peace with what has happened and is looking forward.”
Before joining the FCF Zappers last year, Manziel played in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Alliance of American Football 2018–19.
“I know the mistakes I made the first time and I know that I don’t really want to be a repeater of those mistakes,” Manziel said.
“So for me, I’ve learned a lot. Now, did you actually learn if you’re not implementing different change in your life moving forward? No, you didn’t really learn anything.”
“I live every day in a way that I want to, that makes me happy, and I feel like I give that aura off in my in my everyday encounters,” concluded Manziel.
This season, Manziel looks forward to playing alongside former NFL great and likely future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens; the 48-year-old caught a touchdown last week in his first game.
“He looks exactly the same as he does five, 15 years ago,” said Manziel of Owens. “The guy’s a legend.”
The FCF is a far cry from the NFL as players are paid a weekly minimum of $400 plus room and board, while coaches receive $3,500 per month with housing and a meal plan.
Last March, Farudi confirmed that the league planned to play two seasons a year, both in the spring and in the fall, and by year five, plans to expand to 20 teams.
The FCF league allows fans to call offensive plays and vote on rules. Former NFL players Marshawn Lynch, Austin Ekeler, Richard Sherman, and Dalvin Cook own teams in the league.
Manziel’s team meets Sherman’s Glacier Boyz on Saturday in Atlanta.
Games are broadcasted on Twitch, NBCLX, DAZN, FuboTV, and Peacock.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.