Troubled catcher Josh Gordon joins Johnny Manziel on Atlanta-based startup league team


Former NFL wide receiver Josh Gordon will return to the sport in fan-controlled American football league as a member of the Zappers, team owner Bob Menery told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Gordon will join former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel on that team’s roster.

The league, which began play this month, features 7v7 games in which fans set rosters, call plays, and interact in a mix of traditional and esports settings.

Gordon’s on-and-off NFL career ran into another hurdle last month as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, when he was suspended indefinitely after the league overturned his conditional reinstatement.

An NFL spokesperson told ESPN at the time that the decision stemmed from the 29-year-old Gordon violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the league’s substance abuse policy. No other league details were provided.

The league suspended Gordon indefinitely in December 2019 for violations of its policies on substance abuse and performance-enhancing substances. That was Gordon’s sixth suspension since the 2013 season and his fifth for any form of substance abuse, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Gordon was conditionally reinstated by the NFL in December and was ready to practice with the Seahawks in the final two weeks of the regular season. Coach Pete Carroll said at the time that he had a chance to play Week 16 against the Los Angeles Rams. But that same week, the NFL placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Gordon signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks before last season began. In 63 NFL games, he has 247 receptions, 4,252 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2012 NFL supplemental draft, after playing for Utah and Baylor.

FCF teams are playing a six-week schedule, with games streamed live on Twitch from a league-rented facility in Atlanta. Games last about an hour and the field is 50 by 35 yards with 10-yard end zones.

The players have backgrounds from the FBS and FCS college levels, along with the CFL, XFL and Futsal League, including Manziel.

Before FCF, Manziel, 28, last played soccer in April 2019 for the Alliance of American Football and has also played in the Spring League and CFL since the Browns released him in 2015. Manziel and Gordon were teammates in Cleveland.

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