The AAF has reportedly shown interest in Johnny Manziel who was recently barred from the CFL. We have a official statement from the league on their interest in the former first round pick and why it makes sense for the league to bring Manziel in.
Johnny Manziel has not only been released in the CFL but barred by the league. The 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has not played in the NFL since 2015 and has been known for his issues off the field. However, should the AAF give him a shot? I break down why it would be a low risk potential high reward situation for the AAF to bring in Manziel.
Thad Castle is a lightning rod, period. Whether it’s on or off the field, no football player has brought more attention and controversy to the game of football. Beginning with his glory days at Blue Mountain State, where he was the premier defensive player in college football, Castle has provided both jaw dropping playmaking ability and controversy. For a four-year period he was one of, if not the most dominating defensive force that college football has ever seen. However, despite his greatness, Castle is known more for his off the field shenanigans then his actual football play. Whether it’s complaining to NCAA officials that defensive players don’t win the Heisman trophy, a drug scandal on a boat that resulted in a one game suspension, threatening opposing players, and of course his arrest for a house party. Oh, not to mention he did his best Brett Favre impression and sent pictures of a certain body part to female BMS students.
After his senior year the question was where would he be selected in the NFL Draft? Would a team overlook the rampant off the field issues and draft Castle on his pure talent alone? When it was announced that Castle would be the cover athlete for NCAA Football 2012, it sparked a firestorm. Thousands of emails and letters were sent to EA Sports demanding that Castle be removed from the cover for being a terrible representation of the college athlete. When EA Sports announced that they would release a second copy with Mark Ingram on the cover Castle responded: “I knew it! These people just don’t get how great I am!” Surprisingly, the Castle cover became the highest selling copy of an EA video game to that point. After the cover controversy, Castle would be drafted by the New York Jets. However, Castle thought it was criminal because he was a first round talent and that team’s had made the biggest of their lives. Hey went to Twitter say “Tebow’s a first round pick and I’m not? What is this a conspiracy? #WTH”. While Castle was furious about not being selected in the first round, and even threatened to not attend training camp at all, Rex Ryan was excited to have Castle on the team. Ryan: “He’s a ferocious and aggressive football player. Did we know about the off the field issues? Of course, but we know this kid loves to play football and that he can be a playmaker on our defense. I love his swagger and know that he’ll bring the attitude to our defense”. Castle would make an instant impact with the Jets by knocking out Mark Sanchez in training camp for the season. At first this seemed like a bad thing, until people realized that this was a blessing in disguise since Mark Sanchez couldn’t play quarterback. In his rookie season Castle would have 145 tackles, 15 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions. Leading the number 1 defense in football, Castle propelled the Jets to a 17-7 victory in the Super Bowl where he was the MVP with a defensive touchdown and 15 tackles.
But once again, Castle’s biggest opponent wasn’t an offense, but his own success. Following the Super Bowl, Castle was arrested for possession of drugs and was found naked in his hotel room holding the Lombardi trophy. When asked about this behavior, NFL star Rob Gronkowski told Sports Illustrated : “jeez and I thought I liked to party. Castle makes me look like Tim Tebow!” After a tumultuous sophomore year in the league, which included two suspensions for the drug use in the off-season and for biting Tom Brady’s leg, Roger Goodell went on the war path stating that if Castle did not change his ways, he would be out of the NFL. Of course, this is Thad Castle we are talking about. That night he tweeted “Goodell is just jealous because he wishes he was a football star and not some loser wannabe #ThadRules”. We all know what happened next. Thad got suspended, Goodell got his way, and Castle went to twitter to infamously tweet: “FU NFL”. Despite the suspension, Castle still was still in the mainstream. He tried to become an action star in his own movie, Road Rage. The movie was a disaster from Castle’s terrible “acting”, and was critically panned by critics. But was this really a surprise? Really? Thad plus acting is not an equation that ends well. It didn’t help with all of the negative publicity about Castle getting into fights on the set and constantly pranking the director. At least he made millions off of his “Guck Foodell” t-shirts.
When he returned to the grid iron, he would once again help to lead the Jets to a second Super Bowl victory. However, after he flipped off Goodell when he took the Lombardi Trophy and told him to “suck it”, Goodell snapped. On the Super Bowl podium in front of the world he told Castle that he was done in the NFL.
Today, Castle is 29 years old and playing in the Canadian Football league. There he is trying to jumpstart his NFL and acting careers, both so far unsuccessfully. Currently he is in a heated battle in court trying to fight his NFL suspension to be reinstated. Castle’s main defense that while his actions, while idiotic, weren’t criminal. While he continues to fight the NFL ban and try to find a director gullible enough to give him an acting role, Castle has continues to play in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. There, he has led them to two consecutive championships and has won the defensive player of the year twice. While his antics have continued north of the border, one anonymous GM told me that Castle will never be banned from the CFL. “Are you kidding me? Of course they wouldn’t suspend him. He’s the main attraction for the CFL right now and has brought countless revenue and media attention to this league. Now the CFL is a headliner because of Thad Castle. Now were in the same conversation with the NFL! He’s too big in the CFL and could get away with anything”.
While Goodell has made it known that he is trying to clean up the NFL, he might consider the Castle suspension because of the media magnet he’s become. Hey negative attention is better than no attention at all am I right? Whatever happens to Thad in the future two things are for certain. He is one of the best football players in the game today, and that he will be a media lightning rod. Heck just look at his twitter. Why else does he have over 15 million followers. Hey it’s Thad’s world, and all we can do is just sit back and wait to see what he is going to do next.