Riders work out Johnny Manziel. Team de­nies it

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JUSTIN DUNK DownNa­tion is an af­fil­i­ate site of thes­pec.com.

The Cana­dian Foot­ball League says it’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing a re­port that former Cleve­land Browns quar­ter­back Johnny Manziel had a work­out with the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers.

Sources with 3DownNa­tion.com say Manziel was put through the paces by the Riders in Florida in ad­vance of last month’s Se­nior Bowl. Manziel is on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ ne­go­ti­a­tion list, hav­ing been added on Sept. 9, 2012, and Saskatchewan does not have per­mis­sion to con­duct a work­out.

The team says it did not work with Manziel.

“The Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers have not held or at­tended a work­out in­volv­ing Johnny Manziel,” said Riders vi­cepres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, gen­eral man­ager and head coach Chris Jones in a state­ment re­leased by the team. “With that, I will not be com­ment­ing fur­ther on the re­port.”

One of the sources works in the CFL and other is close to Manziel. They in­de­pen­dently said they had knowl­edge of a work­out but did not want their iden­ti­ties di­vulged.

Late yes­ter­day af­ter­noon Johnny Manziel told TMZ.com that the work­out with Saskatchewan did not hap­pen.

“I have had no work­outs with any team from the CFL,” Manziel said.

CFL spokes­peo­ple Paulo Senra said the league is look­ing into it.

“We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing. The Riders tell us that they did not work out Manziel. So at this point, it ap­pears the re­port is false,” Senra said in state­ment. “Should other ev­i­dence come to light, we will deal with it ac­cord­ingly.”

CFL by­laws state that clubs are “ex­pressly for­bid­den to ne­go­ti­ate, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, with a player whose name is on the ne­go­ti­a­tion list of an­other mem­ber club.”

The 2012 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner has been out of foot­ball for an en­tire sea­son af­ter be­ing re­leased by Cleve­land on Mar. 11, 2016. That said, Manziel has started his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion tour back to pro foot­ball in a pub­lic set­ting. He sent out a se­ries of Tweets on Jan. 19 ac­knowl­edg­ing past strug­gles with al­co­hol al­though he has since deleted his Twit­ter ac­count, stat­ing it is a “dis­trac­tion.”

Manziel has been at the cen­tre of con­tro­versy, the most se­ri­ous of which in­volved a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charge stem­ming from an al­ter­ca­tion with his then-girl­friend. In De­cem­ber, Manziel struck a deal with pros­e­cu­tors that would see the charges dropped if he met cer­tain con­di­tions over the pe­riod of a year.

Last Au­gust, CFL com­mis­sioner Jef­frey Or­ridge told ESPN that Manziel would be wel­come in the CFL if he could as­sure the league he would be an ap­pro­pri­ate fit for its cul­ture.

The Browns se­lected Manziel in the first-round, 22nd over­all in the 2014 NFL draft. He played in 14 games, start­ing eight (2-6 win-loss), com­plet­ing 147 of 258 passes (57 per cent com­ple­tion rate) for 1,675 yards with seven touch­downs and seven in­ter­cep­tions, post­ing a 74.4 QB rat­ing. Manziel added 46 car­ries for 259 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and one touch­down.

This isn’t the first time the Riders have faced league scru­tiny since Jones took over as GM and coach be­fore the 2016 sea­son. In Au­gust, the CFL fined the Roughrid­ers $60,000 and re­duced the team’s salary cap by $26,000 for prac­tis­ing with in­el­i­gi­ble play­ers.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Johnny Manziel

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