Johnny’s long absence from Professional Football finally came to an end Friday the 1st of June. To think he has been away from the professional game since 2015 seems nuts, to think he’s also only 25 and is making a comeback from that period away seems even nuttier! We’ve documented how things haven’t gone to plan for him, but running out onto Tim Hortons Field on Friday night must have felt like a huge step in the right direction of his self proclaimed ComebackSZN.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosted Toronto Argonauts for their first pre-season game, and Johnny’s first CFL action. And it would be a lie to say most eyes weren’t waiting to get a glimpse of Manziel. He had been thrown into more reps than expected with the injury to back-up QB Adams Jr. during the training camp.
While the Tiger-Cats lost the game 36-18 there was some very promising signs for Manziel. His passing accuracy was ridiculously good. Completing 9 out of his 11 attempts, for 80 yards. He also looked very quick evading tacklers and making plays from outside the pocket, attributes well-known for that will come in handy in this league. He was limited in the rush game but overall despite not leading any scoring drives looked very promising for a guy not only out for so long, but also getting back to fitness, only joining the team and getting his first taste of the different rules. The Tiger-Cats had stated they would run plays that suited him, and maybe that explains his impressive numbers which didn’t end in any scoring drives. They chose plays that were safe, but he did succeed with them.
Manziel isn’t in the starters conversation yet. That role is firmly Masoli’s to lose at this point. But after impressing with such limited time with the team the other two QBs Evans, and Masoli both ended up more inaccurate and giving away turnovers. Which would have helped Manziel’s stock in that regard.
He still has a long way to go in adapting an getting up to speed, Johnny mentioned how much quicker the game felt. He also mentioned some of what he will be expecting to face from opposition, given his name and history. When helping a rival out of the pile a few words were thrown Johnny’s way. Speaking about them he said “Listen, I’m not here to be pushed over. You can come at me ’cause my name’s in the papers, because my name’s on TV. You can come at me, [but] I’m not backing down. I’m here for a reason. I’m here to play ball. I’m not gonna be treated like s—.” It will be interesting to see how he deals with this.
So a positive step in a long road ahead, but finally the Football has been put back into Johnny Football.
Catch his first drive courtesy of TSN Tube below.