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HAMILTON – After months of speculation, Johnny Manziel‘s immediate football future has been decided after the former Texas A&M star signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday.
Manziel was introduced alongside his head coach June Jones at a press conference in Hamilton, where the Ticats’ new quarterback answered questions about his long road to the CFL and what’s next in the three-down game.
“I don’t want to wait around anymore,” Manziel, asked about his decision to join the Ticats, told reporters. “I want a chance to get on the field and get in the locker-room and get a chance to play ball again. This was the best opportunity for me to get in here with Coach Jones and a good organization.
“I’m very thankful that they’ve given me a second chance to come up here. I’m very self-aware of the situation and what it is. I’m going to have to earn my stripes up here. I’m going to have to work extremely hard to get what I want, and that’s to play at a high level.”
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Manziel, 25, played in 14 games and started eight for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 2014 and 2015 before being released in 2016. The 6-foot, 210-pound quarterback, born in Tyler, Texas, was originally selected by Cleveland in the first round, 22nd overall, of the 2014 NFL Draft. He most recently participated in The Spring League in April 2018.
The culmination of 15 months of speculation begins the biggest chapter in Manziel’s CFL story. Before going to Cleveland, with Texas A&M, Manziel was one of the biggest stars college football has ever seen.
Despite his reputation, however, Manziel comes to the CFL knowing he’ll have to earn every opportunity he gets. The Ticats already have Jeremiah Masoli as their incumbent starter, while Vernon Adams Jr. was added during the off-season.
“Jeremiah’s our starter, and my feeling about the quarterbacks, as it always is, is they’re going to take enough reps and they’re going to be evaluated in the game,” said Jones. “Of course practice time is going to give everyone an opportunity to take practice reps. We have a lot of receivers in camp so it’s a good time to evaluate everyone.
“Johnny is going to be competitive as a player in this league, we already know that, that’s why we’ve gone through the protocol to get to this point. He’ll compete and competition makes everybody better.”
Talk surrounding Manziel’s possible CFL future began more than a year ago, when the Ticats confirmed his spot on the team’s secret negotiation list.
Manziel is expected to suit up for the first time as a Ticat on Sunday, when CFL teams across the country report for the opening day of training camp. How Manziel fits onto the depth chart will be something to behold as camp plays out the next few weeks.
The Ticats play their first pre-season game on June 1 vs. the Argos at Tim Hortons Field.