Hamilton Tiger-Cat’s backup quarterback Johnny Manziel had an impressive debut for the CFL on Friday, in a losing effort to the Toronto Argonauts.
Johnny Manziel was 9-of-12 passing for 80 yards, and rushed twice for 10 yards, looking poised and polished in the pocket as he made his long-awaited, but highly anticipated debut.
“I felt like I was able to get in there and handle the situation well, get some completions and get the guys some balls,” Manziel said, according to TSN. “I really wasn’t nervous going into it, I was just kind of going out and letting the ball rip.
“Right now we’re still in pre-season so we’ll get a little bit more tailor-made for the team and defense and what they do and scheme against them. I think that’ll help us moving forward.”
Manziel took the opportunity, speaking with the media, to air his complaining about a 22-yard intentional ground penalty.
“That’s the worst call of the century,” Manziel said. “My whole life I’ve been taught to throw it right at the stick that’s marking the down.
“I thought I got it there, he (official) told me I was about a yard short. That’s the first time I’ve heard of that, that’s new to me.”
CFL rules will take some getting used to, as Manziel was jogging to the locker-room at halftime despite one final play needing to be run.
“I’m still learning some things up here,” Manziel said. “There’s going to be some of those growing pains.”
“Obviously you can’t turn the ball over like that and ever have a chance to win a game,” Hamilton coach June Jones said. “But he (Manziel) did some good things.
“He’s got a good game presence about him. He knew what was going on . . . he wasn’t rattled, he wasn’t flustered. Obviously he scrambled around and made a couple of plays. I think he’s going to get better and better every time he plays.”
Argos players sure tried to get under Manziel’s skin, but Manziel isn’t going to back down.
“Listen, I’m not here to be pushed over,” Manziel said. “You can come at me because my name is in the papers, because my name is on TV . . . but I’m not backing down from anybody.
“We’re playing Toronto, obviously there’s a long-standing rivalry here. They’re Grey Cup champs, they jumped on us early. They had every right to talk . . . but this isn’t the last time I’ll be sitting here after a game against them so we’ll welcome them with open arms once the season comes.”
Tiger-Cats’ Chris Van Zeyl Planning to Be Vocal Leading Up to Grey Cup
As the Hamilton Tiger-Cats prepare for their clash with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this Sunday in the Grey Cup Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl is looking to take on a vocal role leading up to the game.
“I don’t care who’s listening I’m going to tell every guy all week,” Van Zeyl said following Hamilton’s East Division win over the Edmonton Eskimos. “(Grey Cup week) is going to be a marathon week . . . for guys new the league or who haven’t experienced Grey Cup week, there are distractions everywhere.
“The team that stays focused the best is the team that usually wins the Grey Cup. If we can lock in for one more week and treat it like it’s going to be our last week together as a family and team, I’m pretty confident in our ability to win the game.”
Van Zeyl has stepped into the starting lineup for the offensive line and has been a big part of the TiCats success this season despite the loss of Jeremiah Masoli to a season-ending knee injury forcing to the team to turn to backup Dane Evans.
“There was no weight of expectation put on me,” Van Zeyl said. “This team embraced me and let me do what I had to do.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the quality of people in this locker room and leading this team in terms of coaches and front office and what they’ve done for me and this organization.”
“I’ve never really been one for personal accolades,” Van Zeyl said. “To be honest, it would mean a lot but if we don’t win the Grey Cup it will be all for nothing.
“I’m going to give that one night, and really that’s all it is — one night — everything but I want to make sure I put my best foot forward so when we’re in the Grey Cup my teammates know they can count on me.”
“I still feel like I’m playing pretty dominant football and I’m going to play until I’m not having fun anymore,” he said. “Honestly, this has been a heck of a fun year for me.
“But that’s a credit to the guys around me and the coaches and preparation that goes into every game. It’s fun to come to work every day, it’s fun to play with these guys and I look forward to many more years with this team.”
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Argonauts Hire Mike (Pinball) Clemons as General Manager
The Toronto Argonauts are bringing in one of the biggest names in CFL history to replace Jim Popp as their General Manager.
Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemons.
Clemons is a former star for the Argonauts on the field, a former head coach, and a former executive with the franchise, so he has a uniquely deep understanding of the team in a number of areas.
The Argos are in the midst of a terrible 2-12 season, following up a bad 4-14 record from last season, so a big change is long overdue and they feel that Clemons can help bring about the change that they need.
Argos president Bill Manning enlisted Clemons’ help last month in an advisory role and Clemons been vice chair of the team since 2009, saying that he turned down a front-office role with the Argos twice earlier this season before agreeing to the position after Saturday’s game.
“I didn’t need a job, I have a wonderful (charitable) foundation I love,” Clemons said, according to TSN.
“I make a living talking to people. I talk and they pay me. I’m not in this job because I need a job. I’ve got a bunch of jobs. I’m here because I love it and I care about our fan base. We want to make it better.”
Clemons knows that building a roster of the right players will be the key to his success.
“It’s not an I thing. If it’s me, this can’t be done,” Clemons said. “We’re going to build a strong, capable team around us. That’s only way we’re going to have any success.”
With the change, Clemons knows that addressing the quarterback position will be high on his priority list.
“We have to build a strong team, no question about that,” Clemons said. “But ultimately, you can’t disguise the importance of that position.”
Now, Clemons takes on the task of turning around a team that has been stuck in a rut and in need of change for the past few years.
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Alouettes’ Tony Washington Out for Season
The Montreal Alouettes will be without left tackle Tony Washington for the rest of the year due to a broken leg, according to TSN.
Washington, 33, suffered the injury during Montreal’s victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday and has undergone surgery for the injury.
Washington was injured when Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. fell on his leg.
Washington has played in 13 games for the Alouettes this season, his second season with the team.
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