The possibility of Johnny Manziel signing with a CFL team has led to the former Texas A&M star becoming a hot topic for media outlets across the country. There has been some legitimate news about his status — first with the triggering of his ten-day clause, followed by an increase of trade interest around the league — but a lot of the hype around Manziel is, frankly, irrelevant.
Six months ago, Manziel was simply a washed-up college football star with the CFL as his lone remaining option to play pro ball. Today, Manziel is a washed-up college football star with the CFL as his lone remaining option to play pro ball.
Where’s the story?
I understand the desire to generate headlines, but there’s little regarding Manziel worth reporting at this point in time. It’s all sizzle and no steak.
For me, the most newsworthy nugget pertaining to Manziel is that teams north of the border are interested in his services at all. Manziel’s natural talent was enough to succeed in the NCAA, a level at which he competed against a few dozen future professionals. The CFL is comprised exclusively of professionals, many of whom have spent years studying the nuances and intricacies of the Canadian game. They’re entirely different worlds.
Manziel couldn’t be bothered to adequately learn the Browns’ playbook while making millions in Cleveland. What makes anyone think he’ll learn a CFL offence while earning a five-figure salary?
It’s possible Canadian teams don’t want Manziel for his play. Perhaps the real reason teams are jockeying for Manziel’s CFL rights is the economic windfall that would accompany Johnny Football’s arrival north of the border. Manziel’s presence would provide a boost in media coverage for whichever CFL team he joined, drawing extra fans to games and selling extra jerseys.
This is both foolhardy and shameful. Manziel fans would soon grow tired of watching the former Heisman Trophy winner sit on the bench. They’d demand to see him play and stop showing up to games when one of two inevitable scenarios eventually played out — Manziel never sees the field or does and fails in spectacular fashion.
Any objective person can see why Manziel would fail in the CFL. Even ignoring his plethora of off-field issues — the alleged domestic assault, drug use, drinking, and smoking among them — one fundamental truth about Manziel undermines any success he might have in Canada.
Johnny Manziel doesn’t want to play in the CFL.
Manziel sees the CFL as nothing more than the quickest route back to the NFL. This is true of many American football players, sure — kids from south of the border dream of winning Super Bowls, not Grey Cups — but there’s one key difference.
Most players who succeed in the CFL enjoy long careers north of the border if the NFL never comes calling. Would Manziel — a person who’s already worth a reported 4-million dollars — be willing to grind out a long-term career in Canada if the NFL never expressed interest in taking him back?
More than a hundred players are on CFL practice rosters right now, most of whom earn no more than $600 per week. These men aren’t motivated by fame or lavish endorsement deals — these are football players who are doing everything in their power to make the most of their careers.
They grind. Manziel doesn’t.
Is it possible that Johnny Manziel reforms himself, matures, and reaches his true potential en route to CFL stardom? I suppose it’s not impossible, the same way that I could potentially reach my goal weight by Christmas. Sadly, at this point in time, neither of these scenarios are anything more than fantasies.
Because Manziel inevitably sees the CFL as many college stars do — a chump league comprised of players who couldn’t cut it elsewhere. Manziel, like countless others before him, is in for a rude awakening should he ever play in Canada. Whether on a sack by Charleston Hughes, an open-field tackle by Solomon Elimimian or an interception by Chris Randle, Manziel would quickly learn that the CFL is full of great players who don’t take their success for granted. Sustained success up north takes talent, hard work, determination, and drive. Immediate success is exceptionally rare.
And without immediate success, there’s no NFL bid.
And without an NFL bid, there’s no reason for Johnny Manziel to try the CFL.
And without a reason for Manziel to try the CFL, there’s no reason to talk about him.