Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is heading to the Canadian Football League, looking to salvage his football career after a turbulent and unsuccessful stay with the Cleveland Browns.
The quarterback signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and appeared at a news conference Saturday, ending months of speculation on his possible path back to the game.
“Made the decision today to sign my contract with the CFL and further my football career after a long break,” Manziel wrote on Twitter earlier in the day. “Very grateful for everyone that's been supporting me along the way. I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I'm eager for what the future holds.”
His last game came at the end of the 2015 season. He now comes to a team coached by June Jones, a former NFL and college coach. Players report to training camp this weekend.
In 2016, a domestic assault charge against Manziel in Dallas was dismissed after he took an anger management course and participated in the NFL's substance-abuse program. In a recent interview, he said he's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has stopped drinking.
The CFL has a policy on violence against women. The league said in a statement that in December it began a process to determine if Manziel could join the league.
Manziel had to meet certain conditions, including an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence, a review by legal counsel and a discussion with Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
The league said it informed Manziel and the Tiger-Cats it would approve his signing. He must, however, continue to meet the specified conditions to “maintain his eligibility.”
Manziel was drafted out of Texas A&M by the Browns in the first round in 2014. He threw as many interceptions (seven) as touchdown passes during his two seasons.
In January, after signing a three-year contract to remain Hamilton's coach, Jones gushed about Manziel's potential.
“I think he'd be the best player to ever play up here,” he said. “He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do.”
Hamilton (6-12) finished third in the East Division last year and missed the playoffs. The Tiger-Cats were 0-8 with quarterback Zach Collaros before coach Kent Austin resigned and was replaced on an interim basis by Jones.
The Tiger-Cats signed quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who went 6-4 after being named starter by Jones, and receiver Brandon Banks to contract extensions in January.