Johnny Manziel in the CFL

Heisman Trophy winner and NFL bust Johnny Manziel finally signed a two-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in May in order to begin his long-awaited comeback. That comeback might take a little while longer to get going because Manziel didn’t even get to play in the team’s season opener, a 28-14 loss to Calgary. Instead, the Ti-Cats started Jeremiah Masoli, a former Oregon and Ole Miss quarterback, who completed 25 of 36 pass attempts for 344 yards and an interception.

When the team brought in Johnny Football, head coach June Jones told reporters that Manziel didn’t have a chance to take the starting job from Masoli. However, Manziel did impress in the team’s final preseason game, going 12-for-20 for 88 yards and one touchdown. That decent preseason performance might not have been enough for Manziel to get the starting nod in the CFL, but it was apparently enough to convince Jones that the former Texas A&M quarterback belongs back in the NFL.

“It’ll take two years,” Jones said. “They’re [NFL executives, coaches] waiting to see that he’s taken care of his off-the-field problems.”

“He’s humble,” he said. “He’s growing up every day.”

Jones does acknowledge that Manziel doesn’t lack confidence “at all,” but says that the former phenom has a long road ahead if he does want to get back to the NFL. He does, however, think that he can compete on the same level as someone like Garrett Gilbert, the backup quarterback with the Carolina Panthers who played for Jones at SMU.

“We have a huge project [in Manziel]. We’re going to get that done, too.”

Manziel put a lot of energy into trying to get back to the NFL in recent years. He spurned the Ti-Cats and CFL for years while trying to parlay an NFL deal. He also took part in pro day workouts at the University of San Diego and Texas A&M, but no one took a flyer on him. Only then did he sign with the CFL squad in the hopes of having a Doug Flutie-esque revival and return to the league he washed out of in 2016. He’s got until 2020 to prove it.


About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to