CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie feels the increased attention Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Johnny Manziel has brought to the league – it’s only been a couple weeks and one pre-season game – will benefit the league.
“If in this case, Johnny is able to bring more fans to our games, watching these amazing players that play our game, we’ve got Ricky Ray, Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell and the list goes on and on, if one thing causes more people to watch the rest of these world-class athletes than I’m for that,” Ambrosie said on TSN.
“Obviously, when you’re getting people watching our games, seeing how fast and how entertaining the game can be I think it’ll cause people to come back. The more attention we get through whatever means we get it, I think is good for our future.”
Ambrosie initially did not register a contract for Manziel last September. After a vetting process, the commish announced in December the CFL would approve a deal for the Texas A&M University product. And on May 19 Manziel signed with the Ticats.
“Johnny stands out because of his history. He won a Heisman Trophy. There is just something about Johnny’s story that is attracting a lot of fan interest and attention,” Ambrosie said on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto.
“But I’m actually hoping in some way it actually causes people to look at these other guys and go ‘wow look at these superstar football players’ that are playing the Canadian game alongside someone like Johnny Manziel and if that happens, then that’s good for everybody in the league.”
Manziel made his CFL (pre-season) debut last Friday completing 9-of-11 passes for 80 yards and rushing twice for 10 yards. That exhibition game drew nearly 310,000 English-language viewers. The network has decided to air the Ticats second and final pre-season game in Montreal on Saturday with the probability that Manziel starts at QB. Online TSN’s YouTube video of Manziel’s first drive is over 740,000 views.
“He’s certainly a very interesting guy and with a great pedigree,” Ambrosie said on TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver.
“In some ways, I think the story is that Johnny comes to the Canadian Football League…serves to highlight how great our players are. It will be good for Johnny but really good for the whole Canadian Football League.”