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Johnny Manziel: Here's why Atlanta Legends should acquire the Heisman winner

The Alliance of American Football would be wise to make sure that Atlanta – the league's biggest media market – gets first crack at signing Manziel.

ATLANTA — It's been nearly 24 hours since Johnny Manziel was ex-communicated from the Canadian Football League (Montreal Alouettes); and yet, we still don't know why the Heisman Trophy winner received a league-wide ban.

This lack of transparency has likely had an adverse effect on the Alliance of American Football league. 

On the surface, the AAF should be in prime position to welcome Manziel to American spring football, since the embattled quarterback seemingly has zero remaining options with the NFL or CFL. 

Plus, the startup XFL doesn't launch for another 12 months.

However, nothing can come to fruition until the AAF gets clarity behind Manziel's sudden exodus, aside from posting marginal-at-best numbers last season (1,290 yards passing, 5 TDs, 7 INTs in eight games).

Let's run through the possible reasons for a player getting dropped by the CFL:

a) Illicit drug use (failing a drug screen)

b) Hidden accusations of domestic abuse or assault

c) Breaking a non-compete clause with another sports league

d) Illegal sports gambling

e) Violating a morals clause, if such a thing exists with the CFL 

If the answer pertaining to Manziel's dismissal lies with Options A or B, the AAF might resist the temptation to explore this signing any further.

But if we're talking options C, D or E ... there may be minimal harm in extending an offer to the 26-year-old Manziel, who was a two-year washout at the NFL level (Cleveland Browns).

11Alive Sports offers three reasons why the Atlanta Legends should move heaven and earth to acquire Manziel, if the AAF endorses approves him for league action.

1. The Legends desperately need a drawing card to mask their wretched on-field product

Forget about the shocking report of the AAF nearly missing payroll in advance of Week 2, before NHL owner (Carolina Hurricanes) Tom Dundon rescued the league with a $250 million loan.

If the winless Legends (0-3 ... fewest points scored in the league) had folded up before the first home game at Georgia State Stadium, would anyone have lamented such a loss?

Of course not.

The real embarrassment involves a Legends Web site which doesn't have the previous results on its "Schedule" page ... or that former UGA quarterback – the all-time passer in SEC history – rides the pine in the Atlanta market, in favor of Matt Simms.

This isn't to say Murray has more talent than Simms. Frankly, they're both eminently replaceable assets at the pro level. 

However, if a developmental league plans to invoke territorial rights when crafting the rosters for all eight franchises, it makes zero sense for Murray not to play for a go-nowhere franchise inside the state of Georgia.

The solution: Either play Murray or trade him to San Antonio!

Speaking of which, Manziel would seemingly be the best fit for the AAF's lone Texas franchise, capitalizing on his glory days as a high school hero and collegiate star (2012 Heisman Trophy, 93 total touchdowns in just two seasons at Texas A&M).

But that would be a move with merely the short term in mind.

2. Atlanta must be a viable market, if the AAF has any long-term plans of success

For reasons that cannot be explained, the AAF doesn't have franchises in this country's top nine media markets (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington D.C., Houston, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston).

By proxy, that makes Atlanta (No. 10 media market) the de facto kingpin of the AAF, in terms of possessing the greatest growth potential for media/sponsorship/endorsements/merchandising/TV ratings – at least when things are going well.

For comparison sake, when the American Football League launched in 1960, league powers-that-be committed the early sin of letting the New York franchise (Titans ... before being renamed the Jets) go under the stewardship of a shallow-pocketed owner (Harry Wismer), who barely had enough money to afford rent at The Polo Grounds (a dilapidated eyesore in the 1960s) or make payroll on a weekly basis.

As a result, the AFL had to endure three dormant seasons in New York, before the club could be sold to Sonny Werblin, a mega-connected talent agent (Hollywood/New York City) who had enough financial wherewithal to move the Titans/Jets into a sparkling new home (Shea Stadium) ... and then sign quarterback Joe Namath for a then-record sum of $427,000.

(Namath spurned the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals, who had also drafted the Alabama product in 1965.)

It goes without saying: If Werblin doesn't buy the Jets in the mid-1960s ... Namath never ends up in New York City; and AFL and NFL history would be drastically different.

Are we comparing Manziel to Namath? Absolutely not. But at the very least, a somewhat-committed Manziel would put butts in the seat at Georgia State Stadium for Year 1.

3. If the Legends don't upgrade their roster in a hurry ... this might be the last time we reference the club in column form

Ah, the the downside of occupying a major media market with six flagship properties (Braves, Falcons, Hawks, United ... Georgia, Georgia Tech).

If the Legends don't become watchable through innovative coaching (perhaps cloning Orlando Apollos mastermind Steve Spurrier), or threaten to reach the postseason in Year 1 or 2, they'll disappear from the limelight faster than you can say 'Bobby Petrino.'

That's the beauty of media companies doing more with less resources these days. 

Covering a winless and star-deprived Legends team won't ever be a priority.


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