Dundon: AAF Will Sign Johnny Manziel "If He Can Play"

AAF Chairman Tom Dundon said the league will give worthy players a chance – but it won't chase names for "marketing opportunities"

Tiki and Tierney
March 05, 2019 - 8:52 am

USA Today Images

If you’re asked to name the biggest stars in the NBA, you might say LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. If you’re asked to name the biggest stars in MLB, you might say Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. NFL, same deal. Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.

But what about the AAF? Who are its stars? And more importantly, can a league sustain over the long haul without them?

“I don’t think you can count on a Kurt Warner story,” AAF Chairman Tom Dundon said on Tiki & Tierney. “You can’t count on that. You might get lucky every 10 years and find something like that. I think what’s compelling is the opportunity. Disney has made a whole business out of Cinderella and rags-to-riches, there’s all this reality TV and Hard Knocks, and people seem to be interested in that. How do we take the person who was second-string to Tiki Barber and never got to play, but all of a sudden, look, he’s pretty good, and if he could get somewhere else where he gets a chance, he might do it. 

“And so, that’s how I look at this league,” Dundon continued. “We may not have the star power, but we have a compelling story about opportunity and second chances. That’s what I think this is about. But it’s a bad answer, right? Because I don’t know that we’re going to have stars.”

Dundon, who invested $250 million in the AAF in February, was asked about Johnny Manziel. The former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round NFL Draft pick was released by the Montreal Alouettes last week after violating his contract. In fact, the CFL has banned other league members from signing him.

Might the AAF try to sign Johnny Football? 

If he can play,” Dundon said. “Look, one of the things when I first got involved, there was a couple names that came up, and (the question was), ‘Would you pay more (for these guys)?’ And I said, ‘No, we’re going to keep our structure and make this a place where everybody gets treated the same and everyone competes for a spot to get an opportunity.’ If these GMs in our league have contacts in the NFL, they’ve got to keep their credibility where they can tell teams, ‘This guy works hard. He can learn your system.’ If they want him because they think he can play and has a chance, then him or anyone else should get that opportunity. But we won’t chase people for marketing opportunities as much as we’ll give opportunities to anybody who can play.”

Click below to listen to Dundon’s interview in its entirety.