Here’s how Johnny Manziel made sure he left the Alouettes and the CFL

Here’s how Johnny Manziel made sure he left the Alouettes and the CFL
Here’s how Johnny Manziel made sure he left the Alouettes and the CFL

Former quarterback Johnny Manziel was unhappy during his time in the Canadian Football League (CFL), he who mainly wore the colors of the Montreal Alouettes during his only season on our side of the border.

This is what the 31-year-old told during his recent appearance on the “Bertcast” podcast.

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An outcast in the NFL after an unsuccessful stint with the Cleveland Browns between 2014 and 2015, Manziel decided to turn to the CFL. His rights belonged to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and he signed a two-year contract with this team in 2018.

“The first day I stepped on the football field, I felt exactly the same way I did when I was in Cleveland. I felt empty, I felt like I wasn’t having fun, Manziel said. Throwing, running, doing physical activity, my stomach hurt. That same feeling came back and that’s when I realized that football wasn’t what I wanted to do for my career and for my life.

After spending six games on the bench with the Tiger-Cats, the pivot was sent to the Alouettes in a monster transaction. The Sparrows gave up linebacker Jamaal Westerman, wide receiver Chris Williams and two first-round picks to land the Heisman Trophy winner, as well as offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice.

A pawn

In eight games with the Alouettes, Manziel amassed 1,290 yards and five touchdown passes. He was also the victim of seven interceptions. The footballer, however, felt like he was being used for marketing purposes.

“I was used as a pawn in this league for visibility, I was used as a pawn for business,” he said. The CFL is an organization that is financially managed on a daily basis, year after year. There is no real distribution of wealth between each team in this league.

Considering this and his aversion to the sport, Manziel found a way to get out of his contract to make sure he wouldn’t return to Canada in 2019.

His plan

Before reaching an agreement with Hamilton, the quarterback had to speak and obtain permission from commissioner Randy Ambrosie to join the Canadian circuit, due to his previous run-ins with the law. The big man of the CFL accepted his arrival by imposing several conditions in his agreement.

“[Les Alouettes] held my rights for another year, and I began to think that [Ambrosie] had put provisions in my contract stating that I couldn’t do X, Y and Z, and if I didn’t, I would be kicked out of the league. So I did X, Y and Z to get this damn contract canceled.”

One of the conditions of Manziel’s deal was his sobriety. The CFL sent an alcohol and drug tester to the athlete’s home in Los Angeles after the season and he was happy to provide a urine sample, knowing it would result in his immediate release.

“I just remember smiling from ear to ear, I couldn’t wait any longer,” Manziel recalled. It was probably the time I was happiest to pee into a bottle. When I gave it back to him, I just remember him saying, “Why are you so happy?” I was like, ‘Man, I can’t tell you what a blessing this is, what a godsend! I don’t need to go back to Canada because of what you’re holding in your hand.'”



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