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AAF coach says he’d vouch for Johnny Manziel in the NFL

If his most recent coach has his way, Johnny Manziel will get another opportunity to prove he’s worthy of a roster spot in the NFL. David Lee, former offensive coordinator for the Memphis Express of the now defunct American Alliance of Football, told John Kryk of the Toronto Sun that the former first-round pick showed a new sense of maturity during his brief time in the AAF, an attitude change that makes him hopeful Manziel gets another NFL shot.

“I’m hoping and praying he gets another chance. My short experience with him was tremendous,” he said.

“I really, really like Johnny as a person. Boy, he’s got a fire in his heart. He loves football. Gosh, he loves it. And he wants to be good,” Lee continued. “He had been through hell and back from the time he left Texas A&M until the time he rolled into Memphis.”

In 2014, Lee, then the quarterbacks coach of the New York Jets, refused to list Manziel among the group of draft-eligible signal-callers he would recommend to management. It wasn’t the Texas A&M product’s off-field reputation that scared Lee off, either, but his perceived lack of awareness, understanding, and consistency playing in the pocket.

After just two weeks of coaching Manziel with the Express, though, Lee is singing a far different tune.

“[Manziel] can still play,” he said. “I can’t say what happened at his other three [pro stops]. Probably it was him. He didn’t have his mind right, or his heart right, or something. All that crap he went through maybe got him to that humble point.

“Yeah, I think he can [play in the right NFL environment].”

Manziel, 26, last played in the NFL in 2015, when he threw for 1,500 yards, seven touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 57.8 percent of his passes in 10 games for the Cleveland Browns.