Johnny Manziel must earn Hamilton Tiger-Cats' starting job

By The Sports Xchange  |  May 20, 2018 at 5:25 PM
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Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is officially a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but the Canadian Football League's most high-profile player might not even be the team's starter.

"I'm humbled to be here," Manziel said in his introductory press conference Saturday in Hamilton, Ontario. "I'm very excited to be here, and this isn't just a pit stop for me. I'm not just coming here to get what I need and go back down to the NFL."

Former Oregon Ducks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is the incumbent for the Tiger-Cats. Coach June Jones said Manziel has a ways to go if he wants to beat out Masoli as the starter.

"Let me tell you something right now, he's got his work ahead of him to beat out Jeremiah," Jones said. "He's got a lot to catch up on, but he'll spend the time to get that done. I know he will because he's already learned that lesson."

Like Manziel, Masoli has been in trouble off the field. Then-Oregon head coach Chip Kelly dismissed Masoli, a two-year starter, from the team after several off-the-field incidents. He transferred to Mississippi and started one season. He has played in the CFL since 2012. He threw 15 touchdown passes and five interceptions last year for the Tiger-Cats.

According to reports, Masoli earns $235,000 per year compared to Manziel's $122,000 salary.

Manziel had hoped to resurrect his career by competing in two games in the Spring League at Austin, Texas, in April. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 188 yards and rushed for two touchdowns in his second game after going 9 of 15 for 82 yards in his league debut.

The 22nd overall selection of the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft, Manziel played 15 games over two seasons. He completed 57 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and seven fumbles.

Manziel had significant problems off the field. He was investigated by Dallas police in 2016 for domestic violence against an ex-girlfriend, but the charges were dropped when he agreed to undergo counseling.

Following the 2015 season, Manziel entered a rehabilitation center and was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Earlier this year, Manziel said he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is on medication. He told "Good Morning America" that he is "working to try to make sure I don't fall back into any type of depression because I know where that leads me and I know how slippery a slope that is for me."

Manziel also announced a deal with media outlet Barstool Sports, and said his partnership with the company, which he said was a long time in the works, will include a "comeback season" podcast.

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