KATY, Texas -- Johnny Manziel hasn't started an NFL game in 404 days, but that didn't stop him from becoming a major attraction 30 miles away from the heart of Super Bowl week events.
The line at Stadium Signatures led out the door as the former Cleveland Browns quarterback signed autographs, shook hands and posed for pictures for an hour and a half Thursday night at the Katy Mills mall. Fans arrived early with their memorabilia, mostly Texas A&M jerseys, posters and helmets, though a few Browns jerseys were spotted as well.
Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner who played two seasons for the Aggies, was in good spirits for what one store employee called "the largest crowd we've had, even bigger than (signings for) Earl Campbell and Warren Moon." The selfies were free, but fans paid $99 per autograph and could have a professional picture taken with Manziel for the same price.
James Lemos drove 30 minutes north from Richmond to bring his 9-year-old son Kyle, who sported a maroon Texas A&M jersey and explained how he was named for the Aggies' home stadium. Lemos, who graduated from Texas A&M in 1998, said it seemed like Manziel was trying to make good on his promise to become a better person after a tumultuous past few years that saw him bounced out of the league and in trouble with the law on numerous occasions.
"I saw he deleted his Twitter account," Lemos said. "He needs to stay away from that."
Manziel, who didn't take any interview requests from the media, told fans that he is actively working to make an NFL return after sitting out this season. Though he is only 24, questions remain about which team would be willing to take a chance on the former first-round draft pick.
The Browns released him in March after a string of incidents, highlighted by a domestic violence charge that was dismissed in December. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. And his return is still pending the league's review of his domestic violence case, which could result in another suspension.