Lost in the epic craziness of Friday’s non-stop news fest was this treatise from the Winnipeg Free Press’ Jeff Hamilton on the issues surrounding the vetting process conducted by the CFL and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The whole piece – and it’s loooooooong – is worth a read but one of the most interesting elements comes near the end when Hamilton talks to Colleen Crowley, Manziel’s ex-girlfriend, whom he was charged with assaulting after an incident in January of 2016. It’s the first time Crowley’s spoken publicly since the assault.
Some quick background: Manziel was charged in April of 2016 and Crowley said in court documents that Manziel struck her so hard that she temporarily lost hearing in one ear and that he threatened to kill her. Manziel faced a year in jail but the domestic assault charge was dismissed last November when he successfully completed requirements of a court agreement that included taking an anger management course and participating in the NFL’s substance-abuse program.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie initially said Manziel couldn’t enter the league last season but would be permitted to play in 2018 if he met certain, unspecified conditions. They gave him the green light in December and negotiations are ongoing between Manziel’s camp and the Ticats, who own his rights.
But Hamilton’s story says that neither the league or the team has reached out to Crowley as part of their “due diligence” on Manziel and also outlines why that’s a significant oversight, according to experts. It also features an incredibly damning quote Crowley. From the story:
If Manziel had shown remorse by issuing an apology to Crowley or shown some accountability by openly taking responsibility for his choices, it would have been significant, as those are described by evaluators as two of the most telling signs an accused is on the right track to changing his behaviour. Had the CFL reached out to Manziel’s victim, they would have found out neither of those signs was present.
“At first, I felt that I needed an apology to help me process the assault. When it wasn’t forthcoming, and I had more time to process his destructive nature, I realized that he needed the remorse in order to heal,” Crowley said. “He won’t change due to his denial of the events, his DNA, and the enablers he surrounds himself with. Me? I’m stronger now.”
Hamilton also speaks with Tod Augusta-Scott, a highly-regarded domestic violence counsellor and researcher, who explains why speaking to Crowley would have been an important step in the process.
“Part of what I’m looking for in a guy is humility about the change process, that he’s able to put himself in his partner’s shoes, to show empathy,” Augusta-Scott said in a phone interview. “If a guy that can’t deal with the shame of the whole thing, minimizing the seriousness of the abuse or denying it all outright, those would be all warning signs, for sure.”
When informed Crowley hadn’t participated in the Manziel case, and nor was she invited to, Augusta-Scott simply stated: “That’s a big problem… If they haven’t reached out to the victim, even to see what’s going on with her, he’s not being invited to actually face the consequences and the effects of what he’s done.”
Again, the whole story is worth a read and it goes into painstaking detail about the whole process. It will also likely leave you with more questions than answers on whether the league has really done its homework on Manziel and, more importantly, if he’s done enough to make amends.
The woman he assaulted certainly doesn’t seem to think so.