Memphis Express Should Start Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

The Memphis Express are the worst team in the AAF. They have only won one game and have gone through three different quarterbacks this season. With the signing of Johnny Manziel, it’s time to make it four.

Johnny Manziel Should Start for the Memphis Express

There are several reasons to be skeptical about starting the former Browns quarterback right away. He will have only been with the team for a few days by their next game. He has ultimately failed in both the NFL and the CFL. He has been a distraction at every stop.

All of these are legitimate arguments against starting the Heisman winner, but in this case, the positives outweigh the negatives.

What Will It Hurt?

The Express are the worst team in the league. They’ve only managed a single win through six games, have arguably the worst coach, and just when the quarterback position was looking up, they took another huge step backward when Zach Mettenberger went down with an ankle injury on the first snap of their 22-9 loss to the Salt Lake Stallions.

Even if Manziel is a rusty distraction, they can’t get much worse than they already are. How good is Brandon Silvers anyway?

In his most productive NFL outing, Manziel put up 372 yards on 33-for-45 passing with a touchdown and a pick in a loss to the Steelers. Sure, that game may have been lightning in a bottle, but it shows that there is (or at least was) some semblance of hope that he can compete at a high level in the professional realm, even if only at the AAF level.

The AAF is full of great football players, but there is an obvious dropoff in talent from the NFL down to all other leagues. Manziel was able to compete at one time against the best of the best, so there is no reason to believe he won’t be able to compete with those a step below the best.

Exposure

The Orlando Apollos have Steve Spurrier as their coach and that alone is enough for them to garner national exposure. Sure, they don’t receive the airtime that even the worst NFL teams get, but relative to the AAF, they are the media’s favorite.

Memphis gets very little exposure outside of their market area, which isn’t that large. Manziel, however, grabs headlines everywhere he goes. He even brought American attention to the CFL, a feat not seen since Doug Flutie.

In media, there is no such thing as negative press. Manziel will bring attention and cameras to a little-known team in an often-ignored city. Whether he excels or fails, the Express will likely garner more headlines than the Grizzlies do in a season.

Attendance/Viewership

The average attendance for an AAF game is 15,100. The Express fall just short of that number, coming in fifth place in the league at 12,801 fans per game. Sure, the addition of a single player might not boost that number to the 25,000+ averages of the Apollos and Commanders, but it will definitely help.

Manziel in the AAF will be must-watch, whether from Liberty Bowl Stadium or from afar. Many will cheer for him, while others will hope to see him fail. Either way, fans will tune in.

More butts in seats and more eyes on screens help not only the Express but the league as a whole. There have been concerns over the potential longevity of the AAF after the now infamous $250 million bailout that was needed after just the first week of play, so spikes in attendance and viewership will do wonders for the AAF’s PR department.

Final Word

Whether or not football fans want to admit it, Manziel is a star. Perhaps not on the field (though he still could be in this league), but stardom goes beyond the gridiron. Ultimately, professional sports are entertainment. In the entertainment industry, stars equate to money. Money makes everything else go.

Manziel will bring a new light to a league that needs a hero. He will bring a new following to a league many already hold near and dear to their hearts. He could be the hero and save the league or be the villain that everyone loves to root against. Either way, the AAF and the Express will be the true winners.

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