COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Johnny Manziel said that he’ll try his hand in the Canadian Football League if he doesn’t get an opportunity with an NFL team this offseason.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, who performed at Texas A&M’s pro day on Tuesday in front of NFL coaches and scouts, said he’s continuing to work in the hopes that a team will come calling, but he isn’t focusing on it day to day.
“I’ve blocked it off,” Manziel said. “I can’t do anything, I can’t stress about it, all I can do is make sure I’m where I need to be. … All I can do is block it off. If something [with the NFL] pops up, it pops up. And if not, if I don’t get the opportunity to go back, I’m going to go play in the CFL, and things are going to be fine.
“One way or another, one day down the line, I’ll get back to exactly where I want to be, because I’m not going to stop until I do.”
If Manziel, a former NFL first-round pick whom the Cleveland Browns cut after two seasons, does go the CFL route, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats currently hold his rights.
The latest stop on Manziel’s #ComebackSZN tour (the moniker for his attempt to make it back to the NFL) landed in Aggieland, his old stomping grounds where he once participated in a highly publicized pro day four years ago.
He threw to several of Texas A&M’s current NFL hopefuls — including receiver Christian Kirk — on Tuesday in Texas A&M’s McFerrin Athletic Center during his second pro day in as many weeks. (Manziel threw at the University of San Diego’s pro day last week.) Representatives from all 32 NFL teams, as well as two CFL teams (Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders), were on hand to watch the pro day. There were 47 coaches and scouts from NFL or CFL teams present.
While it wasn’t quite the circus that his first A&M pro day was (which included full pads, music and a former U.S. president), there were still plenty of eyeballs, including those of former Texas A&M stars and current NFLers Mike Evans and Myles Garrett.
“He’s young. His talent is still there,” Evans said of Manziel.
Evans said he “absolutely” believes Manziel will get back to the NFL.
“Why not? You’ve seen some of the quarterbacks and what they’ve done,” Evans said. “He’s better than a lot of quarterbacks out there.”
Evans later added: “I think he’s a starting quarterback in the NFL.”
Manziel said he is next heading to Austin, Texas, to compete in The Spring League, a developmental football league for NFL hopefuls that will play NFL-rules, full-contact games on April 7 and April 12.
“Being there, doing the film stuff, getting back into the real football stuff — not just coming out and throwing and working out, that’s great, that’s a part of it, that’s step one — then there’s the film, the coverage, there’s everything else that comes with being in the building,” Manziel said. “That’s what the spring league gives me a little bit of. A practice setting.”
Manziel said he hasn’t set a timeline on how long he’ll wait for an NFL opportunity before considering going to the CFL.
“I’ve been focused to get through tomorrow,” Manziel said. “To get to the first day of practice and get to the Spring League … I think we’ll feel it out as it goes after The Spring League and see. The quarterback market itself has to play itself out. There are still a bunch of guys who are unsigned.”
Manziel, who has had well-documented alcohol and substance abuse issues in recent years, noted that he feels that he’s in a good place mentally.
“I can’t do what I want to do footballwise if I don’t do what I need to do mental healthwise,” Manziel said. “If I’m not going to see a psychiatrist and a psychologist at least a couple times a week and if I’m not taking my medicine every day that I need to take, then I’m not the same person, and I see it. So first things first. I can’t be me without doing the necessary steps that I need to do to keep my head right.
“It took me a while to really overcome that and get to where I was comfortable with it, but once I did, I started seeing an improvement in all aspects of my life. The people that I have around me … I have a good team around me, and I’ve cut off a lot of the leeches that have been around me in my life, and it was really needed and really necessary.”