FAN CONTROLLED FOOTBALL KICKS OFF FIRST SEASON
Heading into the first games in Fan Controlled Football (which has a distribution partnership with VENN) history, the two biggest stories were former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and how he would perform as quarterback of the Zappers and five-time Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch suiting up in an attempt to play for his own Beasts team.
Unfortunately, neither of these storylines lived up to the hype. However, there was enough interactive and thrilling action on the field to make fans forget about what they might have been missing.
Here’s a recap of the first weekend of FCF competition.
Glacier Boyz vs. Wild Aces
The first game in FCF history provided fans with a fun peek into how this league differed from the football that they’re used to. With just seven players on each team and a 50-yard field, the potential for big plays is huge and they came fast and furious.
Each team worked down the field with big running plays, eventually getting on the board with a couple of running touchdowns in the first half. Glacier Boyz quarterback David Pindell got in first, scoring the first touchdown in FCF history. The Wild Aces responded with a touchdown on the ground from running back Calen Campbell, his first of two running touchdowns on the night.
After a handful of drops from wide receivers from both teams, Pindell showed why wide receiver Andrew Jamiel was given the franchise tag by the Glacier Boyz with a touchdown catch in each half. Wild Aces’ quarterback Jackson Erdmann didn’t quite live up to his own hype, spending most of the second half on the bench while his team struggled to find the end zone.
Much of the broadcast included FCF team owners, and former NFL teammates, Richard Sherman and Lynch. While Lynch promised to suit up and play for the Beasts later in the evening, Sherman stuck around and was noticeably frustrated when his team was not given the opportunity to use their “5th Down” power-up at the end of the game to keep their drive alive. FCF co-founder Patrick Dees promised Sherman that the rules would be looked at again before next week’s games.
Final score: Wild Aces 30, Glacier Boyz 22
Beasts vs. Zappers
After Manziel came out for introductions to make his FCF debut, fans were told that Lynch had changed his mind and wouldn’t be playing for the Beasts after all. That news, paired with the knowledge that the Zappers team is one of the most talented in the league, made it feel like this game was going to be a tough one for the Beasts.
On the very first play, “Johnny Football” ran for about 39 yards and ended up just a yard away from a touchdown, which was easily converted on the next play by running back Anthony Jones. The Beasts answered back with a 40 yard touchdown pass from quarterback T.J. Edwards II to running back LaDarius Galloway on the first offensive play in the team’s history, and fans got ready for a shootout.
The Beasts held a 28-20 lead at halftime after picking off Manziel for the first interception in FCF history and sacking him as well, also a first for the league. The Zappers got some good luck on the first play of the second half, a fumbled snap by Edwards that was picked up and run back for a touchdown by line backer Cecil Cherry.
Once again, Edwards bounced back and found wide receiver Christian Saulsberry for a long touchdown pass to regain the lead for the Beasts and handed the ball back to Manziel. The Zappers’ quarterback was sacked yet again and, in another controversial call, he was ruled down at the one yard line despite what was clearly a safety for the defense.
At this point, the Zappers decided to “flip the field”, which is similar to a punt, to avoid giving the defense another shot at a safety. This put the Beasts back on their own 10 yard line but gave them the ball, which they drove down the field and into the endzone on a run by quarterback Quinton Flowers.
Logan Marchi was the Zappers quarterback for the rest of the game, leading a frenzied comeback that ended on the last play of the game, with a Zappers wide receiver getting tackled four yards away from a touchdown that would’ve won them the game.
Asked after the game how it felt to be back on a football field, Manziel replied, “It feels like I’m super washed up.” That’s probably not what the Zappers were hoping to hear when they placed their franchise tag on him before the start of the season.
Final score: Beasts 48, Zappers 44
Now that these players have shown what they’re capable of on the field, Wednesday’s draft should be very interesting. Don’t be surprised if Marchi is the very first pick after showing what he could do as a backup this week.
Dees repeatedly stressed during the broadcast that this is a 1.0 version of FCF, and that we should expect lots of changes throughout the season as the league continues to gather input from fans in an attempt to build the best possible football league for the future. We’ll be keeping an eye on what those changes could be, but there’s no doubt that FCF made a splash with its first night of on-field action.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Fan Controlled Football/Getty Images
DULUTH, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 13: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Zappers dives short of the end zone against the Beasts at Infinite Energy Arena on February 13, 2021 in Duluth, Georgia.