Johnny Manziel released, barred from other CFL teams
MONTREAL (AP) — Johnny Manziel’s time in the Canadian Football League is over.
The CFL terminated the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner’s contract with the Montreal Alouettes on Wednesday. The league also informed the eight other teams that it wouldn’t register a contract for Manziel if any tried to sign him.
“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,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said 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 its 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 post on Manziel’s Twitter account indicated he was already looking for other opportunities.
“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 for the former Texas A&M star and onetime Cleveland Brown could be the Alliance of American Football, which kicked off its inaugural season earlier this month. Manziel said he was intrigued by the prospect of playing in either that or Xtreme Football League, which begins operation 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 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.”
In December 2017, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced the league would approve a contract for the former Cleveland Browns first-round pick, who at the time was on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats negotiation list. But Manziel had to fulfill certain requirements to join the league.
The league’s due diligence included an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence and a face-to-face meeting between Manziel and Ambrosie.
Exactly what conditions or requirements that were broken or violated weren’t divulged. 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 to the field behind starter Jeremiah Masoli. The Tiger-Cats dealt Manziel and offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice in a 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 recruited him to Texas A&M. Acquired to be Montreal’s No. 1 quarterback, the 26-year-old nicknamed Johnny Football went 2-6 as a starter, completing 106 of 165 passes (64.2 percent) for 1,290 yards with five TDs and seven interceptions.
He also ran for 215 yards on 29 carries as Montreal (5-13) finished third in the East Division but missed the CFL playoffs.
“We are disappointed by this turn of events,” Alouettes GM Kavis Reed said in a statement. “Johnny was provided a great deal of support by our organization, in collaboration with the CFL, but he has been unable to abide by the terms of his agreement.
“We worked with the league and presented alternatives to Johnny, who was unwilling to proceed.”
Manziel was taken in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by Cleveland. But following two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released the Tyler, Texas, native in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter.
Manziel appeared in just 14 games with Cleveland, completing 147 of 258 attempts (57.0 percent) for 1,675 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 259 yards and a touchdown.