Johnny Manziel picked off 4 times in 'humbling' CFL debut

The Sports Xchange
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Johnny Manziel made his first start in the Canadian Football League and looked every bit like a quarterback who last played in a professional game in 2015.

Manziel was intercepted four times, including on his very first pass, as the Montreal Alouettes absorbed a 50-11 shellacking by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night.


The former Heisman Trophy winner was benched in the fourth quarter and told reporters after that game that his CFL debut was a "humbling experience."

Manziel was making his first start since Week 16 of the 2015 NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He had been acquired by Montreal on July 22 in a trade with the Tiger-Cats, with whom he served as a backup for the first five games this season.

RELATED Manziel to make first CFL start

"This is a humbling experience. I've had this experience in the past and there are two ways you go about this moving forward," Manziel told reporters, per the Toronto Star. "One, you can let it get you down and sulk and harm you moving forward. The other way is to take this on the chin like a man and never let this taste creep back in your mouth again and never let it happen again. This will motivate me."


Manziel finished 11 of 20 for 104 yards with the four picks before he was yanked in favor of Vernon Adams. He dismissed the notion that he needed more time with the Alouettes before earning a start.

"Everybody has an opinion," said Manziel. "Would it have been nice to be here for three weeks and then get the start? Sure.

RELATED Hamilton Tiger-Cats trade Johnny Manziel to Montreal Alouettes

"But I didn't lack any confidence coming into the game. I didn't feel unprepared. But who knows? I got the start and it went just about as bad as it could possibly go."

Manziel, who was entrenched as a backup to Jeremiah Masoli with Hamilton, threw all four interceptions in the opening half. His first pass attempt of the game was picked off by Larry Dean, an ominous sign of things to come.

"As the game started, I made a really uncharacteristic throw on the first drive and it really set us back," said Manziel. "I did a bad job of setting the tone on that first drive."

RELATED Johnny Manziel stuck on Hamilton Tiger-Cats bench behind Jeremiah Masoli

Masoli, who threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns and ran in for another score, said he expected Manziel to improve after the disastrous performance.

"As the quarterback over here I'm happy for our defence. But beside that, personally, yeah you feel for him a bit," said Masoli of Manziel. "But that's how it is. It's pro football. He'll get better just like everyone else."


Montreal coach Mike Sherman, who recruited Manziel to Texas A&M in 2011, said Manziel will remain the starter.

"The mistakes he made, he'll learn from," said Sherman. "He didn't have a lot of opportunities running around because we didn't protect very well. He made his share of mistakes, but no, absolutely, positively no regrets."

The 25-year-old Manziel signed a two-year deal with Hamilton in May, two years after getting released by the Browns following two turbulent seasons. Before joining the CFL, he actively pursued another NFL contract.

The No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Manziel played in 15 games with Cleveland over two seasons. He completed 57 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and seven fumbles.

Latest Headlines