The old French saying, “the more things stay the same, the more they change”, seemed fitting for former Cleveland Browns quarterback, Johnny Manziel, in what was a disastrous CFL debut up north for the Montreal Alouettes.
Manziel looked like..well Manziel from the last time he stepped on a football field for the Browns back in 2015, in going 11-20 for 104 yards, and tossing four–yes, FOUR interceptions–in a 50-11 loss to the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Maybe it’s just the fact that he was playing his former team–whom he was just traded from to Montreal–or not enough time for reps to learn the terminology of old head coach, Mike Sherman’s new system in Montreal in 11 days, but it was the same old Manziel stinking it up in a different country and league entirely.
As one who was once one of Manziel’s biggest supporters when he was here in Cleveland, a lot of the same head-scratching decisions and eye-poppingly bad throws and accuracy instantly brought back memories of why he proverbially washed out in Cleveland.
The CFL may not get the same kind of publicity that the NFL does, but Canada has its own unique brand of football this many Americans can learn to respect, as they are just as rugged, physical and talented as some of their NFL counterparts.
If one good thing that came from the ferrago that was Manziel’s uneventful debut was that it made the top news segment on ESPN, and was mentioned across many social media platforms. In itself, this was a win more for CFL getting some “pub” down in the States more than how badly Johnny Football got deflated by Hamiliton.
Let’s be honest, before Manziel even started for either Hamiliton or Montreal, no one knew anything about the CFL, the Tiger-Cats or the Allouettes.
What the hell is an Alouette? Yup! Exactly!
We all know Montreal as a hockey-mad city that lives and dies by their beloved Canadiens, but where the hell is Hamilton and why should us Fortnite-obsessed, Madden-loving Yanks give two cents for a medium-sized city on the southwestern shore of Lake Ontario.
That is neither here or there, and set for another blog at another time about my personal connections to Hamiliton, my exposure to the Tiger-Cats and getting a glimpse of Tim Horton’s Field, but I will say that it is a lovely city that immediately reminded me of my adopted second city of Pittsburgh due to its characteristic escarpment cliffs, and its place as the head of the Canadian steel industry.
But the thought of Manziel lighting it up for Hamilton and utterly running former Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl QB Jeremiah Masoli out of H-Town proved to be laughable as he got shipped due East up the Queen Elizabeth Expressway–The QEW to those up north–to Montreal.
It is only one game, with one of the worst teams in the CFL, but sadly in the case of the hype that was once Johnny Football, it was as uneventful first impression.