There is a silver lining to the Johnny Manziel era. The Canadian football League approved former Heisman winner Johnny “Football” “Money” Manziel to sign a contract for the 2018 season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The announcement doesn’t actually mean Manziel will play in 2018, but it does allow the former Agger to play in the CFL. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to get us up to speed on the saga that is Johnny Football.
Johnny Manziel was highly recruited out of high school as one of the nations top dual threat quarterbacks. Manziel attended Texas A&M and took the nation by storm, breaking several NCAA Division one and SEC records. Johnny was the first Freshman to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and the fifth player in NCAA history of any age to do so. Manziel was the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy, Manning Award, and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
Although his draft stock was highly questionable, the Cleveland Browns took Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. If you believe in curses and bad juju, his career was made to be destroyed the second Cleveland took the former Heisman winner. Johnny was released by the Cleveland Browns after several off the field issues and is currently a free agent. In Manziel’s NFL career, Johnny only tallied fifteen career games played for the Browns and only eight starts. In the ten games Manziel played in 2015, he racked up 1,500 yards and seven touchdowns and looked good while doing it.
Now let’s get to why Johnny’s career didn’t really work out. Manziel comes from a rich family, making it a safe assumption that despite working hard enough to be talented, be is a tad bit spoiled. In June 2012, Manziel was arrested for getting in between a friend of his and a random man on the street. Johnny’s friend yelled a racial slur at the man, who charged the duo. Police reports state that Manziel was in between the two men, claiming the friend didn’t mean the slur. Manziel was 19 at the time and ended up exchanging blows with the man. In the 2013 offseason Johnny had several issues. Notable incidents include leaving the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping, tweeting that he “Can’t wait to leave College Station” (where Texas A&M is located), and getting kicked out of a University of Texas Frat party. The NCAA also launched a full investigation against Manziel when they believed to have evidence claiming Johnny accepted money for autographs, but reached an agreement with A&M to just suspend the quarterback for a half.
Manziel also was pulled over by police in 2015 for fighting with his girlfriend while driving a car. This situation hurt Manziel’s fans the most. Up until this point, most of the allegations had been something a stupid college kid would do. Fighting, stealing and sleeping in were things that every college douche bag did, myself included. When the story came out about Manziel drinking and driving, you could tell the situation was getting serious. Johnny was seen outside a Planet Hollywood in Vegas, but posted a picture hanging out with his new dog with the location services set to Cleveland that same night.
I could go on for about another hour with allegations and police reports about the college phenom. If you got to watch Johnny Football in Texas A&M, you witnessed something outstanding. This 5’9” white kid who didn’t even seem to be able to look over an offensive line was lighting up the countries best teams, doing it all in the SEC none the less. If you want to watch something amazing, look up Johnny Manziel’s highlights against Alabama in 2012. This kid was fearless, and had all the intangibles to keep you on the edge of your seat. Anything with a 2 on it was popular, and the money sign was universal. No-one was as electric on the college football field, ever. Tim Tebow was close, but Tebow was larger and strong. Manziel made you believe you could do anything without ever saying a word.
The first time ESPN covered Johnny Football, it was a rumor piece because A&M didn’t allow freshman to talk to the media. They went around campus and had people tell the mythological story of the great “Johnny Football”. Out of all the Johnny’s to be great, none of them were Johnny Football. There’s a play against Alabama where Johnny, in the all white A&M uniforms, lost the ball off of a lineman. As the ball popped up into the air, Manziel caught it, spun right, ran five yards and threw off of his opposite foot to the end zone for an easy touchdown. In another play, Manziel ran directly into his offensive lineman against a number one ranked Alabama team. Manziel escaped two tackels, used his lineman back to hold him up, peeled away and once again found a receiver for an easy touchdown. Johnny Manziel was Russell Wilson with swagger.
Now let’s get away from memory lane. Johnny Manziel will have a chance to play football again, even if it’s in Canada. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats currently have three quarterbacks on their depth chart. The starter is Jeremiah Masoli who was an undrafted free agent signed by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. Their second quarterback is Zach Collaros, a University of Cincinnati alum who had a small stint with the Tampa Bay buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2012. The third quarterback, Everett Golson, should be a familiar name to many CFB fans. Golson previously played quarterback for Notre dame from 2011 to 2015. Upon his retirement in 2015, Golson announced he would transfer to Florida State for his final year of eligibility. Golson attended the Colts rookie camp after going undrafted, but was unable to find the right situation.
All the statistics aside, we can all hope that the Tiger-Cats give Manziel a legit shot. There is almost nothing more I would enjoy than some additional Johnny Football highlights, especially tearing it up in the CFL.