CFL commish feels Johnny Manziel has ‘come to a good place in his life’

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie seems to be feeling positive about Johnny Manziel.

The 24-year-old 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. Ambrosie wants to ensure a “thorough and thoughtful” process happens until he decides whether or not to allow Manziel to play in the CFL.

Ambrosie said Wednesday that he felt “good” about a conversation in September with quarterback Johnny Manziel but is awaiting the results of a multi-faceted expert analysis before deciding whether to approve him for play in the league.

“He represented himself incredibly well [in the meeting],” Ambrosie said during a visit to ESPN headquarters. “He was thoughtful. I found him to be authentic and sincere. I also felt like he seems to have come to a good place in his life. He was talking a lot about his family. Now, I should say that’s part of the problem. My bias is towards family. So when I’m with somebody in there talking about my family, immediately I feel good about the conversation.”

Manziel was charged with assault of former girlfriend Colleen Crowley in April 2016. 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. His two-year-old case for assault has been dismissed.

That could’ve been one of the requirements laid out by commissioner Ambrosie in order to have Manziel’s contract registered.

“That’s exactly why we feel for any player who has had some trouble in their past, it’s important to not let the lay people be the only part of the decision-making process. That’s why we’ve implemented a process where we’ll lean very heavily on experts who have training and skill that will allow them to really understand where somebody is in their personal journey and be able to give me wise counsel.”

Erik Burkhardt, who represents Manziel, and the Ticats have been in contact.

“He still has a few more hurdles to jump here in December,” vice president of football operations Kent Austin told a Hamilton radio station. “When the process is complete and the report is given to the commissioner, then I’m sure the commissioner will reach back out to us and let us know where things stand. The deadline has been extended into January and we’ll just wait and see what the outcome is.”

Ambrosie wants to check out every detail.

“If we reach a point where we make an announcement that someone can play,” Ambrosie said, “we want to be able to look to the community and say to them that we’ve done our work, that we have not skipped a step.”

Ticats head coach June Jones feels Manziel would “be the best player to ever play up here.” But the commissioner has to allow the former first-round NFL pick to play in the three-down league before finding out if what Jones said can happen.

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