Quarterback Johnny Manziel would have been subjected to an assessment by an expert in violence against women before being able to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, according to the CFL.
Kent Austin, Hamilton’s vice-president of football operations, confirmed Wednesday the team worked out Manziel last week in Buffalo, N.Y. and while they ultimately decided against offering the 24-year-old a contract, the Ticats made contact with the league about their interest in Manziel.
As part of that discussion, the team agreed to a voluntary assessment under the CFL’s domestic violence policy. Manziel was charged in January 2016 after being accused of hitting and threatening former girlfriend Colleen Crowley. He reached a dismissal agreement that required him to complete an anger management class, attend a domestic violence impact panel and participate in a substance-abuse program.
“The Tiger-Cats did inform the commissioner Randy Abmrosie of their intention to evaluate Mr. Manziel and they and the commissioner discussed a thorough process Mr. Manziel would have to go through, including an assessment performed by an expert in violence against women,” a league spokesman said. “No determination was made because the Ticats decided not to offer Manziel a contract.”
Under the CFL constitution, the commissioner has the right to reject the contract of a player he feels brings “brings disrepute to the league or the game of football.” The CFL could still subject Manziel to a review process if and when the Ticats – or any team – decides to sign him to a contract.
But Austin said the Ticats aren’t interested in bringing Manziel in for the time being.
“Johnny did some good things . . . on the field he looked fine,” Austin said. “He’s obviously a talented kid,” Austin said. “We’re not interested in signing Johnny right now. That won’t happen, that’s not imminent. We’re not signing Johnny right now.”
Manziel has been on the Ticats neg list since his days at Texas A&M, where he became the first freshman to capture the Heisman Trophy. The Cleveland Browns selected him in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft and he spent two seasons with the club, posting a 2-6 record as a starter before being released March 11, 2016.
But the 24-year-old Manziel has made headlines for all the wrong reasons off the football field. He was dogged by reports of alcohol and drug use and spent 73 days at a treatment centre for an unspecified addiction.
News of Manziel’s workout with Hamilton comes two days after the franchise rescinded its controversial hiring of former Baylor head coach Art Briles. Less than 12 hours appointing Briles as its assistant head coach offence, the Ticats reversed the decision following a firestorm of criticism over the move.
But Austin defended the decision to work out Manziel.
“We have a responsibility to evaluate every single player that’s on our neg list,” Austin said. “That is being done with all of our players and those factors (character) are all considered.
“Don’t read too much into a workout to say that somehow we’re bypassing the evaluation in that particular area. We’re not. ”
– with files from CP