Well, the comeback season — wait, I'm sorry... the #ComebackSZN — is over. Johnny Manziel, fresh off his first season in Montreal as a member of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, has been not only released by the team, but barred from signing with any other CFL team. The league announced the move on Wednesday afternoon, and had the following comment:
"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.''
Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner and 2014 first round pick of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, played in eight games for Montreal, completing 106 passes in 165 attempts for 1,290 yards, with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. On the field, that performance was good enough to where Alouettes GM Kavis Reed would not have released Manziel. However, the league intervened, and forced Montreal's hand:
"No, sir. Mr. Manziel's performance on the field showed that he had a very good upside, but Mr. Manziel violated the terms and we all understood those terms and we have to be compliant with them," Reed said.
Reed wouldn't give specifics about how Manziel violated the conditions of his agreement with the league.
"We are disappointed by this turn of events. 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," Reed said in a statement. "We worked with the league and presented alternatives to Johnny, who was unwilling to proceed."
For his part, Manziel was gracious for the opportunity, but unapologetic about whatever caused his termination from the league:
I want to thank Coach Sherman, my teammates, and the CFL fans. My time there reestablished 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.— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) February 27, 2019
As we try and connect the dots for what may have triggered the CFL's jettisoning of Manziel, we must note the issues in his past. First, Manziel has been to rehab multiple times for substance abuse. In fact, his tenure in Cleveland was marked with repeated oversleeping of meetings and general disregard for professionalism. In his years off from football in 2016 and 2017, Manziel repeatedly showed up on social media in all corners of the world looking like a drug-addled zombie. Additionally, 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.
The next step for Manziel, if indeed there is football in his future, not a lock by any means, would likely involve his exploring the Alliance of American Football, which began on-field play a few weeks ago, or exploring the XFL, which begins play in February of 2020, including the launching of a team here in Houston. However, the XFL, at least, has made it clear that they will have a strict policy toward acquiring anyone with a criminal charges in his past, particularly domestic violence.
So, for now, when it comes to flunking out, for Manziel, it's two leagues down, and two leagues to go.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.