Johnny Manziel would’ve added some juicy drama to the CFL but banning him for the rest of the season was simply the right thing to do.
CFL Gains Credibility by Barring Johnny Manziel
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie can take a bow once again. The new boss seems to be hitting it out of the park in his first hundred days on the job and this move is another home run. If the rumours persisting around Johnny Manziel’s continuous hard partying lifestyle are to be believed, he really never would’ve helped the Hamilton Tiger-Cats or any other team anyways.
League Still Missing Hollywood Flare
Don’t get me wrong. The CFL could use some of this attention. Manziel making a comeback would be great for injecting a little Hollywood into our loveable but otherwise lacking sex appeal for a sports enterprise. The league nearly got that injection back in the spring in the form of Vince Young but that produced nothing more than a Sports Illustrated trip to Saskatoon before flaming out.
Ryan Lindley started a wild card game for the Arizona Cardinals once but his appearance for the Ottawa Redblacks is hardly generating any hype. Trent Richardson finally showed up in Saskatchewan last week, but it’s hard to imagine him having much impact before 2018. Johnny Manziel would’ve instantly garnered the attention of ESPN, Fox sports and talk radio everywhere in North America. Badly needed publicity the league could use right now given the downturn in TV ratings and empty seats at Argo games in southern Ontario.
But ignoring Manziel’s past would have only cast a dark shadow on an organisation (Hamilton) and a league still licking its wounds from the Art Briles fiasco. The ex-Baylor coach who took the fall for a major sex scandal on campus was given a second chance by Ti-Cats president Scott Mitchell before public outrage caused owner Bob Young and commissioner Ambrosie to intervene and stomp the fire out themselves.
It was a disaster which drove many Hamiltonians to ignore the teams 3-2 surge under new head coach June Jones. The team, the league and it’s sponsors can ill afford another misstep like that one. And if Art Briles proved to be toxic, Johnny Manziel and his past of domestic abuse allegations would be radio-active waste.
League Not Stooping for Publicity
But the most re-assuring thing about all of this is that the league isn’t selling it’s soul to the devil. One of the great things about the CFL is the purity of it all. The one pro league not afraid to be uniquely Canadian, the different rules and proving that while we may have some inferior athletes to the NFL in our little blue-collar rouge-filled game we don’t need to sell ourselves short just for a little facetime on Pardon The Interruption.
Letting Ricky Williams play for the Toronto Argonauts as he served his 2006 suspension for failing a drug test was a fun adventure for those of us who got to cover it but still a black eye on the league. It looked desperate. It never worked.
Door Still Open
Johnny Manziel might play in Canada and then again, he might not. Neither of which should be any great concern for the league or it’s commissioner. But if he does play in the CFL, it will on the league’s terms and not his.
And that’s how it ought to be.