Well, is this a telescopic view into what we could be dealing with here? All the time?
Johnny Manziel’s agent pets the Tiger-Cats … while he’s threatening them?
Erik Burkhardt, agent for the former star quarterback who dominated college football at Texas A&M and played two years with the Cleveland Browns, has publicly given the Hamilton Ticats an ultimatum to work out a “fair deal” to make Manziel “their quarterback,” by Jan. 31, or “We will turn our focus to several other professional options readily available to us.”
OK, we’re clearly rubes up here in Canada — where, by the way, Warren Moon was forged into a future NFL Hall of Famer — so maybe we don’t know all the other professional options readily available, but we’re pretty certain they won’t involve being on a football field, no matter how much Johnny F tweets they will.
Feel free to correct us if we’ve missed anything obvious here, like the opportunity to play in Italy. But if he had viable National Football League landing spots, Manziel would already be there; the XFL couldn’t be ready until Manziel is already off the Ticats’ negotiation list, even if he has to wait a full year (Jan. 7, 2019), and his CFL rights can’t go anywhere else unless the Ticats agree to it.
Well, they did agree to it, sort of. Manziel was given permission to talk to another team and did. It really can’t be anybody else but the mightily struggling Montreal Alouettes. Which is maybe why Burkhardt’s statement — released through respected NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport instead of a respected Canadian writer; nice start, boys — contained the attempted pacifiers that, “due to Johnny’s strong relationship with Coach Jones and Hamilton executive Kent Austin, we’ve made the decision to deal exclusively with Hamilton and give them until January 31 to make a fair deal.”
To remove ambiguity — thanks for that, guys — Burkhardt says fair means a contract that matches what Ticat quarterbacks have been making in recent years. Starting quarterbacks. We’re assuming he doesn’t mean Zach Collaros’s league-high contract for this year — who could possibly be that brazen? — but maybe somewhere in the quarter-million-dollar-plus range.
Which would mean having to release Jeremiah Masoli, whom they just re-signed. For the record, Masoli has won nine CFL games, including a 23-straight-completions contest, since Manziel last threw a football to anyone in a uniform.
It’s hard to play quarterback in the CFL, which the Manziel camp may not really recognize, but should. There have been so many touted Americans who have failed at it, including people like Troy Smith who like Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, that nobody guarantees anything big to a new player. You get paid for what you’ve shown you can do … here.
The Ticats clearly didn’t offer Manziel a minimum-wage contract, which they could have done just to keep him on the negotiation list. It’s true, as Burkhardt says, that Kent Austin and June Jones love Manziel’s CFL potential. So they’d have made an offer with respect, and incentive clauses. But, in the long run, potential is nothing more than another word starting with P. You can probably think of a couple of others.
You’re going to turn over a team that has championship aspirations to a guy who would have six weeks to shake off two years of competitive rust and get ready for two torturous games in Alberta? Explain that to the rest of a roster, which is weary of falling into a deep hole right off the bat. Some have already said there’s way too much attention being paid to someone who’s not here, while the guy who went 6-4 and helped them all regain respectability down the stretch IS.
Burkhardt also spent an inordinate number of uncomplimentary adjectives on the CFL’s negotiation list, and it does need a bit of tweaking, but essentially it’s our version of a draft of American players. And wasn’t it CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie who worked out a plan so that Manziel could at least have a chance to play here, which it doesn’t seem the NFL ever really did.
And a couple of weeks later his agent trashes the league? Which is really Manziel trashing the league because you are always responsible for your agent’s public actions.
Look, we know that pro sport is, at its heart, mostly show business. And that all of this showmanship and brinksmanship and seeming disrespect can be viewed as part of the choreography. So, other than the disrespect, it doesn’t really bother us.
What bothers us, and should bother the Tiger-Cats is that the Manziel camp is not willing in the slightest to wait it out and take the normal trajectory of watching and learning from the more experienced. It’s wilful ignorance and suggests what naysayers have always feared: that Manziel wants to use the CFL only as the quickest route back to the NFL.
So the two most probable scenarios of him being fast-tracked — which a starter’s contract would necessitate — would be that he’s not good enough and he’s soon gone, or that he excels and is soon gone to the NFL.
Like either of ’em?
This might get repaired, but it is definitely not starting well.
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