(Reuters) - Johnny Manziel cleared a major hurdle in a bid to resume his playing career when the Canadian Football League on Thursday said it would allow the troubled quarterback to sign a contract if offered one.
Manziel, who became known as “Johnny Football” in winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012 as the best player in college football, was a first round pick of the Cleveland Browns but has seen his career derailed by domestic abuse charges, wild partying and erratic play.
Having worn out his welcome in the NFL, Manziel had hoped to rebuild his career in the CFL but the league denied his comeback bid last season saying it would review his case and revisit his eligibility for the 2018 campaign.
“Since last summer, the Canadian Football League has been engaged in a thorough process to determine the eligibility of Johnny Manziel,” the CFL said in a statement. “This process has been conducted with the cooperation of Mr. Manziel and independent of the team which currently holds his CFL rights, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“It has included an ongoing assessment by an independent expert on the issue of violence against women, a review by legal counsel, and an in-person interview of Mr. Manziel conducted by the Commissioner. As well, Mr. Manziel has been required to meet a number of conditions set by the league.
“As a result of this process, the Commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated.”
The league said Manziel must continue to meet a number of exacting and extensive confidential conditions to remain eligible.
The CFL season opens on June 14 while the Tiger-Cats play their first game on June 16 away to the Calgary Stampeders.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Rex Gowar