Former Heisman Trophy winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel announced his return to football Wednesday, spurning a potential offer from the Canadian Football League for a spot in the Spring League, a four-game showcase of mostly former NFL players in Austin in late March and early April.
"Football has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember," Manziel said in a statement. "Sometimes you take for granted how much you value something until it's gone. My goal is to make it back to the NFL, and I realize I have to earn that privilege. The Spring League has provided me with a great opportunity to play ball again, and ultimately, that is all I want to do. I miss the competition."
Thus, the inevitable second temptation of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones began.
During the 2014 draft, Jones was famously set on drafting the electric, undersized and flaky Manziel with 16th pick before Stephen Jones, his son and impulse-control enforcer, physically stopped from doing so.
Manziel fell to the Browns, who selected him with the 22nd pick. In Cleveland, Manziel joined the team's decades-long list of quarterback failures, leading the Browns to a 2-6 record over eight starts before being released in 2016 after domestic violence accusations made by ex-girlfriend Candace Crowley.
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Crowley told the Dallas County District Attorney's Office that Manziel dragged her by the hair, threatened to kill her and hit her in the head hard enough to make her lose hearing in one ear after she and Manziel got into a fight in Dallas in January 2016.
Later that year, Manziel reached an agreement with prosecutors. The family violence charges were dropped, and Manziel completed anger management classes, attended a domestic violence impact panel and participated in the NFL's substance abuse program. According to the Dallas County district attorney, Manziel completed the terms of the case dismissal in November.
In Austin, Manziel will participate in several weeks of practices and as many as two games over a three-week period in hopes of getting added to an NFL roster for the 2018 season. According to the Spring League, last year's showcase drew scouts from 10 NFL teams, and 22 teams requested film from the project.
If Manziel flashes the talent he did at A&M, his combination of speed, creativity and arm strength will prove a temptation for any NFL team that needs a backup quarterback, especially one built around a mobile passer like the Cowboys. Another quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, might be an even better fit for those teams, but Manziel has the kind of baggage the NFL is used to dealing with, seemingly giving him a decent shot to at least get invited to a training camp.