Former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel will see his first game under center since 2015 on Friday, as quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes. He’ll be facing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Canadian Football League team that signed him, then traded him to Montreal.
The ex-Cleveland Brown hasn�t been in a game since Dec. 27, 2015, when he lost to Kansas City, 17-13. Shortly thereafter he was waived by the Browns, and two months later he checked into rehab for substance abuse.
Manziel, 25, signed with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in May, but got no playing time and was traded two months later to Montreal. Upon getting word that he would indeed be starting this week, he was both excited and nervous about stepping back on to the field.
“I feel very blessed to be in this position,” Manziel told reporters after an Alouettes practice, “to be back in a situation where I�m starting again. It�s good. It�s a quick turnaround. But at the same time, I�m excited for the opportunity. The thing I�ve been missing, even over the course of this year and a couple years, is reps. And as you guys have seen the last couple days, a chance to get with the 1s and get some reps is what I feel like I really need.�
Call It a Comeback
Getting back on the field, any field, even a 110-yard one, was what Manziel said he wanted most in his addiction recovery and since getting a subsequent bipolar diagnosis.
He spent April readying himself for pro football, playing in front of pro scouts at the University of San Diego and his alma mater Texas A&M. He also accepted an offer to play in the non-paying, developmental Spring League, where he played in two games with mixed results. In one game he finished 9 of 15 for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Despite odds by SportsBettingDime of 2/3 that he would get signed by an NFL team, all 28 organizations decided to pass on Manziel, who stated his ultimate goal was to get back in the NFL, but also was willing to give the CFL a go if that was his option.
The Hamilton Tiger Cats signed him to a two-year deal that could’ve been worth about $500,000, but that depended on his getting regular playing time. With the season well under way he was getting none, and unable to overtake starting Ticat QB�Jeremiah Masoli, the team traded him to last-place Montreal for two all stars and two draft picks.
Reunited with Mike Sherman
By playing for the Alouettes, Manziel was again under the guidance of head coach Mike Sherman, the man who recruited Manziel to play at Texas A & M and helped coach him to the Heisman.
After a week of practice, Sherman announced Manziel would start Friday�s game.
Manziel knows there will be plenty of people watching him on Friday.
�It can cause a little bit of chaos,� Manziel said of his starting the game. �But if you get a chance to really know me and know what I�m about, I don�t feel like there�s a lot of that anymore. And I appreciate the support that I do get, being in a completely new, different place. The support and everything that I�ve gotten and the messages and the amount of people that have been encouraging throughout my journey of life to get back to this point today has been � it�s been really nice.�
The Alouettes are a 7-point underdog, and a +215 on the moneyline.