Tales of redemption make for some of the best stories, novels and movies in pop culture. If there is one aspect of North American culture that people tend to enjoy and root for, it’s hearing about people who have scraped the bottom, only to survive and rise—maybe not to their previous ceiling, but significantly higher than their lowest point.
Johnny Manziel’s fall from the spotlight was a tragic and cautionary tale for agents, scouts and NFL teams who bought into the image of a guy who had all the answers in an interview but who would do the opposite on a weekly basis.
At the start, it was cute. We’re talking about “Johnny Football”, the man who single-handedly defeated the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. The man who was featured in Bruce Feldman’s best-selling book The QB, the man for whom Drake had penned a “Draft Day” anthem in honour of his making it to the pros. Yet, save for a couple of weeks, Manziel certainly did not live up to the hype that he brought with him from College Station. Having flamed out of the NFL for his perceived lack of passion, Manziel settled into the pseudo-celebrity persona that had made him a commodity at the height of his fame.
Word trickled from the NFL combine that Manziel was making another honest go of returning to the NFL. Who can blame him, right? There are possibly 10 or so teams that are happy with who they have at QB, but every single team needs to have a guy who gives them a chance to win. So Manziel has gotten a second chance with his former agent Erik Burkhardt.
Now Manziel will look to mend fences with NFL personnel in hopes of getting another shot in the league. While that is honourable, perhaps a baby step would be more ideal for both player and league.
The CFL has always been associated with stars who have either flunked out of the NFL or been rejected by the NFL after their college careers. While the CFL instituted a rule where players suspended in America’s league cannot simply hop over the border to stay active in the Canadian game, there is still demand for players who have a name that resonates. Manziel definitely resonates in the Great White North.
The current apple of the CFL’s eye is former Tennessee Titan selection and Texas Longhorn legendary QB Vince Young, who recently signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to compete for their starting position at QB.
While both Young (33 years old) and Manziel (24 years old) are at different stages in their careers, the CFL has welcomed QBs who have been able to continue playing into their 40s, allowing them to play well into the twilight of their careers.
Manziel has remained fairly quiet, not eliciting any bad publicity for months now, with his focus on repairing not only his football career but himself as a human being. Those who have known the former Aggies QB appear to be buying his mea culpa and renewed passion. With his agent taking him back on as a client and the New Orleans Saints considering him as a possible target, with head coach Sean Payton taking a particular interest in his reclamation, it appears that Manziel is back on the divine path.
While there are 32 NFL clubs, there aren’t that many quarterbacks to make each one a contender.
*Note: Manziel’s exclusive rights in CFL belong to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats