On Friday, Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager Eric Tillman spoke publicly for the first time since the Ticats signed quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Tillman was on TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver and it’s clear he spent a lot of time getting to know Manziel and those around him.
“I was in Texas, spent a week with him. Johnny’s a special talent. His mistakes are well documented, but his athleticism and potential is equally well documented. For Johnny, it’s a chance to get back on the field and reestablish himself athletically and more importantly as a person,” Tillman said.
“We spent a lot of time with him. I’ve talked to him a lot one-on-one, with Bre his wife, spent time with Michelle his mom, Mary his sister. He’s a guy that’s embarrassed by what’s happened. There is a lot of good in Johnny.”
The Ticats and Tillman see special traits in Manziel.
“Athletically, easy question to answer, great accuracy, tremendous accuracy deep, vision which is so important at quarterback, it’s almost like he has three eyes. Johnny’s skill set is elite,” Tillman said.
“If he does the right things and buys in, the talent is indisputable. The onus is on him. We’ve given him the opportunity, it’s on him.”
Manziel has spent nearly a week in Hamilton and since signing there has been extensive media coverage and increased exposure for the Ticats and league.
“Clearly it’s been good for the league. It will impact TV ratings. Johnny is Johnny and we knew when we signed him that the attention was going to come,” Tillman said.
“Anyone with eyes can see the upside and potential. He’s going to create a tremendous buzz when he gets on the field. We don’t know when that’s going to be. He’s just happy, you see it in his face. It’s up to him to seize the moment. We’ll let the story Johnny story tell itself as time unfolds.”