The greatest showman or the circus comes to town? Johnny Manziel lands in Hamilton

The greatest showman or the circus comes to town? Johnny Manziel lands in Hamilton
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

No publicity is bad publicity. That’s the marketing mantra right? ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is often associated with P. T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner. Barnum was a self-publicist of the first rank and would never knowingly miss an opportunity to grab the attention of the public. As with many other supposed quotations however, there’s no hard evidence to link the ‘bad publicity’ quotation to him. Perhaps it was better expressed by Oscar Wilde when he said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”

Whoever we attribute the ideology to, they certainly seem to be living it in Hamilton. On the day the 2017 Grey Cup champion Argos were collecting their rings and flashing their new wares on social media the focus of the league’s attention was shifted by their heated rivals the Ti-Cats. Hamilton had an announcement to make. Johnny Football was coming to town.

It feels like it has been a long time coming. This story has been rumbling on for over a year. Having had real legs since the Ticats confirmed Manziel had a spot on the team’s negotiation list.

Manziel, 25, played in 14 games and started eight for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 2014 and 2015 before being released in 2016. He was originally selected by Cleveland in the first round, 22nd overall, of the 2014 NFL Draft. He most recently participated in The Spring League in April 2018.

Before going to Cleveland, with Texas A&M, Manziel was one of the biggest stars in college football. He played two seasons (2012-2013) at Texas A&M University. In 26 career collegiate games with the Aggies, he completed 595 of 863 pass attempts for 7,820 yards, 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, and added 345 carries for 2,169 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. In 2012, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award and Manning Award.

No publicity is bad publicity. From the CFL’s point of view this sory might have landed at a good time for the league. The NFL is still months away from its training camps opening and now American viewers, and let’s be honest, some Canadian and to a lesser extent British fans that have followed the NFL more than the CFL have a reason to be intrigued by a league they may not have followed too closely before.

Ti-cats head coach June Jones said at Saturday’s introductory press conference that Manziel faces stiff competition from current starter Jeremiah Masoli who led a renaissance that saw the once 0-8 Ti-Cats fighting for playoff contention by the end of last season. “He’s not starting any time right now,” Jones answered when asked about Manziel’s timeline to start. “I’ll evaluate it when I get to that situation.”

There have been players in the past who have parlayed a CFL success into a return to the NFL, but there are no guarantees. Plenty of players have gone North and failed too. Some just don’t adjust to the 3 down game.  Manziel has been a story for so long that you have to wonder too. No publicity is bad publicity? Some players have already declared they are fed up of hearing his name before he signed. How will some of those defenses welcome him?

This isn’t about the money. While contract details aren’t released publicly in the CFL, the typical salary for a back up can vary substantially (the league minimum is $54,000.) One possible clue to Manziel’s deal could be the one signed by former Saskatchewan Roughrider QB Vince Young last year. Young signed a standard one-year deal plus a team-held option with a base salary of $120,000 for both years. Really though from Manziel’s point of view this isn’t about the money. Playing in Canada will allow Manziel to work on his game, and gives him the chance to prove that he is able to handle the pressure of being a professional football player once again.

No publicity is bad publicity? The CFL has supposedly been making strides on dealing with domestic violence. Manziel was charged in January 2016 after being accused of hitting and threatening his former girlfriend. He reached a dismissal agreement that required him to complete an anger management class, attend a domestic violence impact panel and participate in a substance-abuse program. The CFL stated it was prepared to approve a contract for Manziel for the 2018 season provided one was negotiated and he continued to meet a number of conditions set by the league. The league then advised him and the Tiger-Cats it would approve and register a contract but he must keep meeting the conditions to maintain his eligibility. The conditions are not publicly known.

Manziel is expected to dress for the first time as a Ti-cat on Sunday, when CFL teams across the country report for the opening day of training camp. How Manziel fits onto the depth chart will be fascinating to watch as camp unfolds. No publicity is bad publicity? Manziel and the Ti-Cats are going to get a lot of it so they better be ready for the pressure.

What of those Argos who were proudly displaying their championship rings but had their thunder stolen? The Ti-cats play their first pre-season game on June 1 vs. the Argos at Tim Hortons Field. No games between these two old rivals could be called friendly but this has certainly added an extra layer.  #IsitJuneyet?

Image originally from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: