Manziel signs with CFL in path back to foot­ball

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Sports -

HAMIL­TON, On­tario — Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner Johnny Manziel is head­ing to the Canadian Foot­ball League, look­ing to sal­vage his foot­ball ca­reer af­ter a tur­bu­lent and un­suc­cess­ful stay with the Cleve­land Browns.

The quar­ter­back signed with the Hamil­ton TigerCats and ap­peared at a news con­fer­ence Satur­day, end­ing months of spec­u­la­tion on his pos­si­ble path back to the game.

“Made the de­ci­sion to­day to sign my con­tract with the CFL and fur­ther my foot­ball ca­reer af­ter a long break,” Manziel wrote on Twit­ter ear­lier in the day. “Very grate­ful for ev­ery­one that’s been sup­port­ing me along the way. I be­lieve this is the best op­por­tu­nity for me mov­ing for­ward and I’m ea­ger for what the fu­ture holds.”

His last game came at the end of the 2015 sea­son. He now comes to a team coached by June Jones, a for­mer NFL and col­lege coach. Play­ers re­port to train­ing camp this week­end.

In 2016, a do­mes­tic as­sault charge against Manziel in Dal­las was dis­missed af­ter he took an anger man­age­ment course and par­tic­i­pated in the NFL’s sub­stance-abuse pro­gram. In a re­cent in­ter­view, he said he’s been di­ag­nosed with bipo­lar dis­or­der and has stopped drink­ing.

The CFL has a pol­icy on vi­o­lence against women. The league said in a state­ment that in De­cem­ber it be­gan a process to de­ter­mine if Manziel could join the league.

Manziel had to meet cer­tain con­di­tions, in­clud­ing an as­sess­ment by an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, a review by le­gal coun­sel and a dis­cus­sion with Com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie.

The league said it in­formed Manziel and the Tiger-Cats it would ap­prove his sign­ing. He must, how­ever, con­tinue to meet the spec­i­fied con­di­tions to “main­tain his el­i­gi­bil­ity.”

Manziel was drafted out of Texas A&M by the Browns in the first round in 2014. He threw as many in­ter­cep­tions (seven) as touch­down passes dur­ing his two sea­sons.

In Jan­uary, af­ter sign­ing a three-year con­tract to re­main Hamil­ton’s coach, Jones gushed about Manziel’s po­ten­tial.

“I think he’d be the best player to ever play up here,” he said. “He can throw it and he can run it like no­body ever has been able to do.”

Hamil­ton (6-12) fin­ished third in the East Divi­sion last year and missed the play­offs. The Ti­cats were 0-8 with quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros be­fore coach Kent Austin re­signed and was re­placed on an in­terim ba­sis by Jones.

The Ti­cats signed quar­ter­back Jeremiah Ma­soli, who went 6-4 af­ter be­ing named starter by Jones, and re­ceiver Bran­don Banks to con­tract ex­ten­sions in Jan­uary.

“I think he’d be the best player to ever play up here.” — Hamil­ton coach June Jones

Aaron Lynett / Associated Press

For­mer NFL quar­ter­back and Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner Johnny Manziel speaks at a CFL press con­fer­ence Satur­day in Hamil­ton, On­tario.

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