There’s been a lot of chatter about Saskatchewan’s bold, out-of-the-box move in signing quarterback Vince Young. After six years not playing any meaningful football, Young, 33, has joined the Roughriders. Opinion runs the gamut, with some armchair general managers viewing the marquee signing as the arrival of a football god, while others believe it to be merely god-awful.
And so Young joins a long line of NFL names who have come north to the CFL, some successfully (hello, Doug Flutie), others not so much (hey, Vince Ferragamo).
Young, who showed flashes of brilliance early in his NFL tenure, isn’t the only south-of-the-border name being bandied about in CFL circles. Heisman trophy winner, party animal and failed Cleveland Brown QB Johnny Manziel has been heavily discussed in Toronto circles. Additionally, just this week, New York Daily News writer Manish Mehta suggested former New York Jets pivot Geno Smith should give Canada a shot.
“If he succeeds with Toronto, Montreal or anywhere up north, he might have a chance to find success in the NFL. He's still young enough to gain valuable experience in Canada and return to the NFL in his prime (if he's actually good in the CFL),” Mehta wrote. “Geno Smith has been pushed to the margins. Maybe he can grow up in Canada and have a chance to salvage his career.”
Sure, football’s football when you get down to the basics. However, on so many levels the CFL game and the NFL game are wildly different. For every big-name player like Flutie who was genuinely successful applying himself to both codes of professional gridiron, there are dozens who crossed into Canada and had limited or no success: Cleo Lemon, Troy Smith, Ricky Williams, Ferragamo, Chad Johnson, Andre Rison, Andre Ware, Dexter Manley, Mark Gastineau, the list goes on.
So then, why do the rumours of Manziel and Smith persist? C’mon, people, the Argos aren’t interested in either of them. The team’s anointed No. 1 QB is future-hall-of-famer Ricky Ray, with Drew Willy as his backup. And before you think that the erratic Willy is easily disposable, he’s signed until 2018 with a healthy $300,000-plus per year salary. The Argos have much invested in Willy. Maybe foolishly so, but they are certainly going to try to get a healthy return on that investment.
Throw in Toronto’s free-agency signing of former Ticat QB Jeff Mathews, 25, and the Argos have some youth to develop behind the two veterans.
Nevermind that Manziel’s negotiation rights still belong to Hamilton; Toronto’s braintrust, Jim Popp and Marc Trestman, have shown zero interest in trading for them. Hell, the dynamic duo is even on the record as saying they haven’t seen him play and don’t care to.
The Argonauts are finally moving forward in a positive manner after their winter of discontent. There’s no need to rock the boat with a sideshow saga. For that, see Saskatchewan.