Johnny Manziel has a great opportunity to rebuild his image in the Canadian Football League - if he takes it seriously
It might not be the opportunity he wanted. But for Johnny Manziel, it is the chance he needs.
The former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner is going to attempt to reboot his career North of the border. Manziel signed a two-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
While his new coach says he will have to beat out Jeremiah Masoli, odds are June Jones wants Manziel to start at some point, preferably sooner rather than later.
Manziel’s deal is for two years, and it really is the perfect opportunity. If he goes to Canada and dominates, he would only be 27 at the end of his contract and might spark NFL interest. If he fails? The NFL has not been an option recently and would not be in 2020. It’s also possible he just plays at a quality level and decides to stick around and make a nice career for himself in Canada.
Manziel certainly has the talent and skill set to be successful in the CFL. The league has a wider and longer field, three downs and receivers get a running start, which puts a premium on a quick passing game and mobility for a quarterback. His lack of height will not be the hindrance it was in the NFL, because the passing lanes are more open. It is a fun, exciting brand of football, and a Manziel playing at his best would be fun to watch.
But what will make Manziel succeed or fail will be the problem he has had since he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2014: a willingness to put in the work to learn his craft. Manziel always had it easy at Texas A&M. He was able to get by on talent alone. But many players making the jump to the NFL find out that’s not enough at the next level. Some adjust and improve. Others fall by the wayside. That was Manziel.
If Manziel thinks he can just show up and be Johnny Football, he will fail. The CFL has a lot of talented players, many with NFL experience. It is a different game, and learning it is not a given. Throw in all the off-field escapades, and he has a big hill to climb.
He is saying all the right things, but he did that before the NFL Draft, too, and we know how that turned out.
At his best, Manziel was one of the most dynamic college football players of the last 10 years. At his worst, he was a TMZ magnet and an ineffective quarterback. It would be great for all parties if he could succeed. It would raise interest in the CFL in the States, especially among Aggies. Manziel would also find that Canadians embrace their stars, and success there would help rebuild his image. If he truly embraces it all and puts in the effort, he could make himself relevant as a football player again.
Manziel is getting another chance, even if it is not the one he wanted. Here is hoping he makes the most of it.