Montreal Alouettes welcome new quarterback Johnny Manziel
Coaches, fans hope Johnny Football will help bolster struggling offensive line
The Montreal Alouettes organized a first practice and public introduction for brand-new team member Johnny Manziel Monday.
The Alouettes acquired Manziel, sometimes called Johnny Football, along with Tony Washington and Landon Rice from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in exchange for Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman and receiver Chris Williams, as well as 2020 and 2021 first-round picks.
At the news conference Monday afternoon, Manziel thanked his old team in Hamilton and said he was "treated as a brother on that team."
Manziel was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012 before his rapid flameout in the NFL. The Browns released him in 2016, following a string of controversies off the field.
He said the Tiger-Cats "did take a chance on me when I didn't know if anybody else would."
News of the trade broke Sunday, generating much buzz about the new 25-year-old quarterback, formerly a player with the Cleveland Browns.
The trade reunites Manziel with Montreal head coach Mike Sherman, who originally persuaded Manziel to play at Texas A&M after he verbally committed to Oregon.
"I've known Coach Sherman for multiple years. I think this is a situation for me that can absolutely work," he said. "I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to be in Montreal."
Many are hoping that the new additions will help bolster the struggling Als' offensive line. So far, Montreal (1-4) has scored a league-low 69 points this season, while allowing a league-high 148 points.
Manziel got into a lot of trouble early in his professional career, at one point arrested for disorderly conduct.
During his time with the Browns, he was suspended for four games of the 2016 season, for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
That same year, Dallas authorities opened a criminal investigation into allegations of domestic abuse. During that period, he was dropped by his agent, marketing agency and sponsor Nike.
Media reports at the time said that he had struck his then-girlfriend so hard, her ear drum burst.
Manziel reached a plea deal and the charges were dismissed almost a year later. As part of that plea, he was required to seek treatment for substance abuse and take anger management classes.
"I, as anybody, have made a multitude of mistakes in my life," he said at Monday's Montreal news conference. "There was a point in time where I went down a path I had never imagined my life going down."
"I still wake up to this day and have nightmares and have a multitude of bad thoughts about my past. I'm not proud of it. And I'll never be able to change it. And I still struggle with that to this day."
He revealed in an interview earlier this year that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year ago and has since quit drinking.
With files from CBC Sports