Johnny Manziel is returning to football ... in a league you probably haven't heard of

Johnny Manziel’s attempt at an NFL comeback has an official start date and place: March 28, that’s when the ex-Heisman Trophy winner will participate in The Spring League, a three-week “elite development” league in Austin, Tx.

Manziel, who just this week revealed a bi-polar diagnosis and a renewed focus on football, told Bleacher Report about his decision to join The Spring League, adding that he thinks his best football is still ahead of him:

“Football has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. 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. I’d like to thank Brian Woods and The Spring League staff for this opportunity to play the game I love. I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I’m 25 years old and I know my best football is ahead of me.”


There’s been plenty of chatter about what Manziel’s next step in football might be ever since he started talking about his “Comeback Szn” on Twitter. Some people joked he’d be perfect for the XFL reboot, but that’s still a few years off. Opportunities in the CFL are on the table too. But Manziel is starting in Austin — which might feel familiar, since he was a star high-school quarterback in Texas and then won his Heisman at Texas A&M.

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SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the star of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns laughs while stretching prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans on September 20, 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 28-14. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns listens to Joe Haden #23 on the sideline during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns runs out of the tackle of safety Coty Sensabaugh #24 of the Tennessee Titans during a game on September 20, 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 28-14. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the field during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Browns 30-9. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field after the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 07: Former Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel at Kyle Field on November 7, 2015 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns awaits the snap during a game against the San Francisco 49ers on December 13, 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 24-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - DECEMBER 11, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field during a practice on December 11, 2015 at the Cleveland Browns traininst facility in Berea, Ohio. Cleveland will host the San Francisco 49ers on December 13 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Browns 30-9. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns rushes against defensive end Cassius Marsh #91 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 30-13. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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In the Spring League, four teams play two games each, April 7 and 14 after coming together on March 28. Think of it like a showcase. A good showing there could lead to an opportunity somewhere else for Manziel — maybe even the NFL. Last season, the first for The Spring League, 10 NFL teams were in attendance at games, scouting players. Other players who tried to use the Spring League to re-launch their careers include Fred Jackson, Ricky Stanzi, Kellen Winslow II and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Part of a comeback for Manziel is changing the public perception, which is why he’s also been posting workout videos like these on Twitter:

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Mike Oz is a writer at Yahoo Sports. Contact him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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