TSN analyst Glen Suitor calls it as he sees it.
The longtime Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defensive back and Grey Cup champion-turned-broadcaster viewed Cody Fajardo as a superior quarterback prospect for the Canadian Football League compared to celebrity pivot Johnny Manziel.
“Give me Cody Fajardo any day who no one knew about until he got his opportunity to play — tremendous player. He learned, he was hungry, and he’s one of those guys that will go out and either win or die trying. In football you have to have that commitment,” Suitor said on The SportsCage with Derek Taylor on 620 CKRM radio in Regina.
“These celebrities or guys with famous or infamous names come up to the CFL, they’re just not motivated like that. And then they become problems in the locker room because of all the attention they’re getting, good and bad, that’s distracting from the team’s goal.”
Fajardo was a backup for three seasons in the CFL before an injury to Zach Collaros in the opening game of the 2019 season provided the opportunity to pursue and secure the starting role. Manziel came to the CFL with all kinds of hype, but never came close to matching it on the field.
“Do we sign a guy for his name? For his celebrity? In some cases it’s that the guy is infamous — Johnny Manziel. What did the league have to go through to get him on the Hamilton roster? The reason for it was his celebrity, I would suggest, because he was beaten out by two quarterbacks in Dane Evans and Jeremiah Masoli,” Suitor said.
“I would suggest that we have to stop falling in love with celebrity when it comes to football in Canada. If LeBron James signs with the Raptors, that’s different. If Anthony Calvillo is in his prime in Montreal winning championships, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders signed him in free agency, that’s different.”
Manzel was intercepted four times in a blowout 50-11 loss to Hamilton in Week 8 of the 2018 season. It was the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner’s first start in the CFL — he was benched after three quarters. Manziel is out of the CFL while Fajardo has established himself as one of the rising stars in the three-down league.
“When it comes to our game, the Canadian Football League, and maybe our country, we’re not as celebrity-driven as the U.S. is. The U.S. has shown us that they’ll elect a reality show millionaire as their president,” Suitor said.
“Even Johnny Manziel down at ESPN made headlines down there playing in this new fan-oriented whatever it is league just cause he still has that name.”