Johnny Manziel is doing what he needs to do to play professional football again, announcing Saturday morning that he will play in the Canadian Football League.
“Made the decision today to sign my contract with the CFL and further my career after a long break,” he tweeted. “Very grateful for everyone that’s been supporting me along the way. I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I’m eager for what the future holds.”
It’s not the NFL, but it’s a start. He’ll be playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who open training camp Sunday and play their first preseason game June 1. The team’s first regular season game is June 16, and Manziel has agreed to a two-year deal with them.
“It’s going to be a learning curve,” Manziel told Barstool Sports, with whom he also has signed a new deal. “I think it’ll be fun. It’s definitely not the NFL, but there have been guys who’ve gone up there and have come back.
“A lot more [at] the quarterback position that have done it back in the day than they have done it more recently, but still there’s been guys who’ve recently come back and forth all the time.”
The 22nd overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL draft, Manziel partied his way out of the league after two tumultuous seasons and has been trying to work his way back in, of late playing in the fledgling Spring League. NFL scouts attended his workouts there and elsewhere, but he remained a free agent.
Now, if he shows he can make it in Canada, maybe he’ll get another shot at the NFL. Winner of the 2012 Heisman as a freshman, Manziel is, after all, only 25. Talent wasn’t his problem; focus and off-the-field issues were, and he says has addressed those.
Manziel, who got married this spring and has said he’s older and wiser now, said earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is on medication, telling “Good Morning America” that he is “working to try to make sure I don’t fall back into any type of depression because I know where that leads me and I know how slippery a slope that is for me.”
This month, the former Texas A&M quarterback was treated in a Texas hospital for what he said was a reaction to prescription medication. Manziel posted a short statement on Instagram, writing that he “had a reaction to an increased dosage in Lithium which I take for my bipolar disorder. It was a scary moment and I’m especially grateful for the staff at the hospital and all that they’ve done in the last 24 hours.”
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