Realty One

Thursday, February 28, 2019


He entered the CFL with much fanfare and intrigue, but Johnny Football has made a mysterious exit.

The Johnny Manziel experiment ended less than a year after it began Wednesday with the CFL terminating the quarterback's contract with the Montreal Alouettes. The league also informed the eight other clubs it wouldn't register a deal for the former Heisman Trophy winner if any tried to sign him.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Manziel had contravened an agreement that made the Texan eligible to play in the league.

"We advised Montreal that Johnny had violated one of the conditions we had set for him to be in our league. And Montreal announced his release today,'' Ambrosie said Wednesday in Vancouver. "We didn't release the terms of those conditions then and we're not going to do that now.

"We're trying to do what we believe is in the best interests of the entire league. The conditions we set, we thought were the right ones. Those conditions have been violated and we feel it's best, and Montreal feels it's best, to let Johnny move on. And we think it's best for our league that he do the same. And we wish him well.''

A posting to Manziel's Twitter feed indicated he was already looking for other opportunities south of the border.

"I want to thank (Alouettes coach Mike Sherman), my teammates, and the CFL fans,'' Manziel tweeted. "My time there re-established my love for the game of football and the work that goes into it. I look forward to exploring new options within the United States.''

One option could be Alliance of American Football, which kicked off its inaugural season earlier this month. And Manziel said he was intrigued by the prospect of playing in either the AAF or Xtreme Football League, which is scheduled to resume play next year.

"It's great for football, it's great for the guys who need more opportunity, need more film and time to play,'' Manziel said on the Barstool Sports Comeback SZN podcast. "I don't know exactly what my exact steps will be for the next years coming up, but at least there's a lot of options.

"Me and E.B. (agent Erik Burkhardt) are fully committed to playing ball and trying to get into the best situation possible and that's what it's all about.''

Ambrosie announced in December 2017 the league would approve a contract for the former Cleveland Browns first-round pick, who was on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats negotiation list at the time. But Manziel had to fulfil certain requirements to join the league.

The CFL's due diligence included an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence and a head-to-head meeting between Manziel and Ambrosie. Manziel had sought treatment for anger management and alcohol abuse as part of his acquittal on a 2016 charge of domestic violence.

Manziel eventually ended up signing with Hamilton in May 2018 but was unable to get on the field with Jeremiah Masoli taking starting reps. The Ticats dealt Manziel and offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice in a blockbuster trade with Montreal on July 23 for receiver Chris Williams, defensive end Jamaal Westerman and two first-round draft picks (2020, '21).

The move reunited Manziel with Sherman, who also recruited Manziel to Texas A&M. Acquired to be Montreal's No. 1 quarterback, the 26-year-old was 2-6 as a starter, completing 106-of-165 passes (64.2 per cent) for 1,290 yards with five TDs and seven interceptions.

He also ran for 215 yards on 29 carries (7.41-yard average) as Montreal (5-13) finished third in the East Division, but missed the CFL playoffs.

Alouettes GM Kavis Reed said he had no regrets acquiring Manziel.

"When we made the decision to make the trade for Mr. Manziel, we knew the risks that went with it,'' Reed told reporters in Montreal. "We took a chance, we took a risk, an educated risk and it didn't work out.

"That's the situation. We have a stable plan that will allow our football team to advance.''

Manziel was due a $75,000 bonus March 1 and scheduled to earn a $202,000 base salary in 2019. Manziel's departure leaves Montreal with five quarterbacks on its roster (Vernon Adams Jr., Jeff Mathews, Antonio Pipkin, Matthew Shiltz and Canadian rookie Hugo Richard).

Reed feels Montreal has its '19 starter in that group. The Alouettes have struggled, both at quarterback and on the field generally, since Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo - now a coach at the University of Montreal - retired after the 2013 season.

During Calvillo's tenure in Montreal (1998-13), the franchise appeared in eight Grey Cup games, winning three. Calvillo - the most prolific passer in pro football history - was instrumental in that success, being named a league all-star five times and capturing its outstanding player award on three occasions.

Montreal hasn't won the Grey Cup since 2010 and was last in the CFL playoffs in 2014.

"Our fans have been long suffering for a stable quarterback situation and a stable team and a franchise committed to stability,'' Reed said. "You have to go through the pain of the process of getting there.

"This process took a while to be broken and get to a point where it was and it's going to take a while to get back to where we need to be.''

Manziel's CFL action was his first in pro football since December 2015.

He captured the 2012 Heisman Trophy and was taken in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by the Browns. But following two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released Manziel in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter.

Manziel appeared in just 14 games with Cleveland, completing 47-of-258 attempts (57.0 per cent) for 1,675 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 259 yards and a touchdown.

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)


Tim said...

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Johnny..

SWC said...

He probably wanted out so he could sign with one of those new leagues.

Brady Y said...

Right SWC ...he was due a $75,000 March 1st but deliberately breached one of his league mandated conditions. Give your head a shake.

Anonymous said...

No loss

Anonymous said...

Should not Kavis Reid also follow Johnny Football out the door? He basically sold the farm to get him so one would think there should be consequences.

Big Dave said...

Yep. He'll go to the XFL or AAF and flame out spectacularly there ...

Anonymous said...

After the surprising and condemning testimony by Wilson-Raybould today, Justin Trudeau and his Quebec supporters can follow him out the door. If SNC-Lavalin was based in the west and not Quebec, they’d have been prosecuted in the normal course of justice.

SWC said...

To Brady Y;
Give your own head a shake.
Everyone knows there is no bonuses in the CFL until the new CBA is signed and that could be months from now.

Fast Ed said...

Let the bonehead go. There was way to much and focus on this guy last year. It’s time to focus on promoting the players that want to be in this league!
Go Riders!

Brady Y said...

Good point SWC thnaks ...but if he was still on the roster he would get it paid out whenever the CBA is signed wouldn't he? Pretty big gamble to just assume he'll be able to go to the AAF immediately, but I guess money doesn't always matter to a guy like him. He's probably still got some money socked away. I'm just not sure that either of those two other leagues are going to last very long but guess the lure of playing down south is always bigger to some of these guys then being up here.

Anonymous said...

Makes the vince young experiment look pretty tame in comparison!

Anonymous said...

$75,000.** no big deal, its Canadian money. worth maybe $7,000.** when all is said and done.

LF said...

It wouldn't surprise me if SNC-Lavalin or PMO is involved in the timing of this announcement. The more they can load the media with "other news" the better for them.

SWC said...

His Twitter account says, "I look forward to exploring new options within the United States."

Tommy said...

Waste of skin should be banned from Canada as well

Anonymous said...

A wise man once said...

“When all is said and done, there is more said then done!”

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for him.

All I can say is eventually it clicks in and he'll learn like some of us had to the hard way to, "get it". Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Nobody can tell him what to do. He's 26 and most likely believes he has his entire life ahead of him. This was all documented when he was 19-21 years old. 26 becomes becomes a stereotype template of the 44 year old guy (yours truly), that realizes the party is over and he is the last to know - oh then it's time to make changes.

Half measures avail us nothing. There is a place guys like him and some of us can take a seat and listen to some suggestions. Other than that good luck to him and god speed.

Y'er Welcome

Shayne said...

I always hoped he would succeed and turn his life around.

Now I hope he never plays professional football again. He doesn’t deserve the privilege of the game.