Up The Gut AAF Week 7: Manziel Is Being Used

It's easy to connect the Johnny Football dots, Shaun Morash says, and it's sad

The DA Show
March 21, 2019 - 6:11 pm
Johnny Manziel

USA Today Images


By Shaun Morash

Cold Open
The league is full of excitement as the games continue to get better on a weekly basis and the playoff races heat up. Truly, though, the excitement stems from the fact Johnny Manziel will likely play for the lowly Memphis Express for the rest of the season. While everyone is all smiles and intrigued by what Johnny Football will do with this new opportunity, I personally find it sad for him.
From strictly a television-ratings-and-success-of-the-league standpoint, I understand bringing Johnny into the fold. It keeps him away from the XFL next year and could draw in fans. However, he is being used as a pawn in Tom Condon's game. Condon, from Texas, with lots of money, surely must have ties to Johnny Manziel, and it is no coincidence that days after Condon's money flowed into the AAF, Manziel violated an unknown stipulation in his CFL contract. 
After Manziel's workouts for AAF team's were announced, the league decided to flex a regular-season game featuring the worst team in football, the Memphis Express, to network television on CBS – on the afternoon the Network would be televising the Final Four. Then on Sunday, the San Antonio Commanders, who owned Manziel's rights, relinquished those rights (San Antonio has the best Attendance in the AAF and will play three of their final four games at home), and the Memphis Express (the team with the worst attendance and buzz in the AAF and the team that was just inexplicably moved to have a game on network television ahead of the Final Four), was able to claim Manziel.

My point here is nothing is a coincidence, Condon put money into this league with a goal of getting Manziel into this league – and onto a team that needs buzz – and pushed the T.V. deal to feature him before the fans ever knew where he was going. The only thing that saved this entire exhibition, ironically, was the unplanned injury of Zach Mettenberger on Saturday, which made this entire operation look easier to understand.

This is still a smart play by Condon. People will watch; people will come. For Manziel, though, if he really cares about football, he should have been wiser to what he is being used for here. Is their a worse coaching situation to walk into than to Mike Singletary's arms, the same man who could get nothing out of Alex Smith? Manziel's career was officially sunk with his move to Memphis, buzz around the league be damned.

League Musings

1-The AAF announced its Championship Game – scheduled to be played in Las Vegas in six weeks – is now moved to Jerry Jones' fancy digs in Frisco, Texas. This building and setting is perfect: the glitz and glamour of the Cowboys Stadium, in smaller form, holding 12,000. It will look great on T.V., especially if the Commanders are in it. It does hurt any fan who already bought tickets to the game or, dare I say, a flight to Las Vegas. There probably weren't many, but the league should refund flights as well as tickets if you can prove you have a plane ticket bought for that game. 

2- Undefeated no more are the Apollos. I led my Cold Open last week speaking of fear of parity with the Apollos cruising through this season, and I was shut up in a big way on Saturday Night. The same Hot Shots that lost to the Legends at home two weeks earlier just knocked off Orlando in the Bounce House. This could be a good thing for Steve Spurrier's crew. After all, the pressure on any team, in any sport, on unbeaten runs often proves to be too much to handle. Now the focus is back on winning a championship and a trip a few blocks away to Disney World.

3-The correlation between $250 million into this league and second jerseys being introduced hasn't gone unnoticed by me. On Sunday night, in my opinion, we officially saw the best uniform look the league has to offer with the white Fleet jerseys and grey pants. I would go as far as to say their white jerseys rival the best white NFL jersey you could think of. Well done, Starter.

4-The Price is right, then it was hurt, then it was wrong. The Iron's exciting win on the road on San Diego helped snap their recent two game skid but it left us with more questions than answers at the most important position. Neither Luis Perez or Keith Price has played well enough to be considered the starter over the other. The two-quarterback format in Alabama worked for a bit for Nick Saban, but ultimately Tua Tugavailoa proved to be too much for Jalen Hurts to rival. Can the state that once saw that situation have it thrive with their spring franchise?

5- My favorite television window for the weekend's slate of games has undoubtedly been Sunday afternoons on CBS Sports Network. While the league would prefer its best games on primetime – and I don't blame them – there is something to be said for the comfortable late NFL window time transferring to my couch in the AAF. The only problem is I have seen way too many Atlanta Legends bad performances in that slot. Thankfully, we get a taste of the Hotshots for the first time ever in that Sunday afternoon window this week, with Atlanta playing on Saturday.

NFL Player to Watch: Nick Truesdell. True are you? True True. True True. The tight end for the Salt Lake City Stallions found the end zone on Saturday and is getting better and better each week for Dennis Erickson's crew – both in the blocking and passing game. He went to Grand Rapids Community College after transferring from Cincinnati. There, he tore his ACL ending his college career. He has bounced around the Arena Football League where he had 38 career touchdowns. He is a diamond in the rough that just may be opening the eyes of NFL scouts.

My Picks

A 1-2 week last week has me at 3-4 on the season. For this week:

Apollos -8.5 @ Legends:  Two straight clunkers from Orlando? I'm sorry I just can't see it. The Legends’ hot play was cooled in a hurry last week and they do not have the firepower offensively to keep up with MVP Garrett Gilbert and the Apollos receivers. 

Commanders -3.5 vs Stallions: After four straight road games – an almost unheard of road trip in football – the Commanders come home to the Alamo Dome and a fan base that was all-in for the first two weeks. Salt Lake has been too much Jekyll and Hyde for me to bank on back to back wins. Give me the Commanders defense swarming Salt Lake and turning this into a welcoming home party in Texas.

Iron -2.5 @ Express: There will be a rush to get Johnny Manziel on the field. One problem: the Express aren't on the same level in the trenches as the Iron, as we saw in Week 1. The Iron confidence is back, and I expect their defense to thrive and ruin the good mood brewing in Memphis.

Thanks for reading, You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.