The CFL's approval process to let Johnny Manziel play is intense

Johnny Manziel has been scrutinized since the moment he landed at Texas A&M, so perhaps the process to get approval to play in the Canadian Football League wasn’t a big deal to him.

But it seems well beyond the norm.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert detailed the CFL’s approval process, just to let Manziel in its league. Manziel had to talk to CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. That was three months ago. The story said the CFL is currently awaiting “the results of a multi-faceted expert analysis” before deciding if Manziel is fit to play in the league.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats hold Manziel’s rights and Manziel started a process to get into the league, but ESPN said Ambrosie stepped in to make sure it was the right thing to make Manziel eligible to play.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, shown here in 2015, might be making a return to the CFL. (AP)

Manziel has had well-documented issues. Many involve his partying lifestyle and a lack of responsibility as a professional. Legally, in 2016 he was charged with domestic violence but that charge was dismissed a few weeks ago when he met the terms of a dismissal agreement that included anger management.

Manziel is a lightning rod, and has serious issues in his past, but it seems like a surprisingly stringent process. Ambrosie told ESPN that Manziel came off as authentic and sincere and has “come to a good place in his life,” and talked a lot about his family. That impressed the CFL commissioner.

“That’s exactly why we feel for any player who has had some trouble in their past, it’s important to not let the lay people be the only part of the decision-making process,” Ambrosie told ESPN. “That’s why we’ve implemented a process where we’ll lean very heavily on experts who have training and skill that will allow them to really understand where somebody is in their personal journey and be able to give me wise counsel.”

While it all seems unusual, it’s clear the CFL wants to make sure it thoroughly vets players coming into the league. With all the attention Manziel would bring, that makes sense, even if it seems over the top.

Manziel’s last football game was Dec. 27, 2015. That’s two full seasons off, and with all of the negative attention surrounding him, it seems that no NFL team will sign him again. Unless, that is, he rehabilitates his career somewhere else, like the CFL. And Manziel’s game, assuming he’s in shape and hasn’t lost his skills at age 25, should translate well to the CFL. Ambrosie told ESPN that he felt good about the meeting with Manziel.

Perhaps, if Manziel has jumped through all the right hoops, we might see him back on a football field.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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