Johnny Manziel is back at the start-finish line of his pro football career. The former Cleveland Browns first-round draft pick and controversial quarterback who made more headlines for what he did off a football field than on it as a former NFL player, has signed a two-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
While “Johnny Football” may be back on track toward a career in this sport, he is still a long way away from making his presence known in the NFL once again. Still, the move to sign with the CFL franchise is a step in the right direction for Manziel, who has been one of the more criticized and captivating athletes since he was drafted by the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“We’re excited to add Johnny Manziel to our roster, particularly getting it done now so that Johnny can join his new teammates and the coaching staff for a full training camp,” Tiger-Cats coach June Jones said. “We feel like we’ve got an excellent group of quarterbacks, and the addition of Johnny only improves our football team in our pursuit of the ultimate goal, which is to win a Grey Cup Championship.”
The nuances of the game in Canada should make Manziel a star, provided he is correct mentally and physically and is willing to learn instead of becoming the poster child for reclamation projects.
At 25 years-old, this might be Johnny Manziel’s final chance at living his football dream. It’s something he is well aware of, as he stated in an Austin Knoblauch story on NFL.com.
“Getting back to playing ball — that’s what it comes down to,” Manziel said in a video tweeted by Barstool Sports. “It’s something that I miss doing. … Big day for me. I’m no longer unemployed, getting back to what I love to do, and I’m happy about it.”
The last time Johnny Manziel picked up a football, the Cleveland Browns had hoped he would bring his flashy style and gritting ball skills to a city crying for success. By the way, the Browns and their fans are still crying for success. He could not prove he was an effective leader or player in a bigger, faster, stronger league with players waiting to break him in half.
The former Heisman Trophy winner, who was drafted 22nd overall by the Browns in 2014 following a standout career at Texas A&M, was cut by the Browns while under investigation for domestic assault against his former girlfriend. He later reached a deal with prosecutors for conditional dismissal of the charge, Knoblauch wrote.
The Tiger-Cats open up training camp Sunday. They start the regular season on June 16 against Calgary. Manziel hopes his trek back toward professional football will lead him to start that game and continuing his journey back to where he belongs one day – in the NFL on a franchise roster.
“I sit back today and have a multitude of regrets in my life,” Manziel told NFL.com after throwing in front of NFL scouts at Texas A&M pro day in March. “I got lost in a lifestyle, got caught up in the wrong things.”
Making a decision to play in the CFL may be the best decision, the right decision for Johnny Manziel the man, as much as it is for Johnny Manziel the football player.