Donald Trump's Alternate Reality now Affecting Riders

February 9, 2017 - 7:02pm

The phrase “Alternate Facts” as put out by Donald Trump’s White House seems the best way to describe the news of the Riders working out former Heisman Trophy winner, alcoholic and Cleveland Brown washout quarterback, Johnny Manziel.

Manziel’s size and abilities suggest he would be a natural for the CFL if he wasn’t flakier than say, any member of the Trump administration.

The problem is Manziel’s CFL rights are owned by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Rider GM and Head Coach Chris Jones has established a reputation for stretching the rules, witness the Riders getting fined for excess practice squad players last season. Jones denied any such workout took place and the Riders suggested legal action may be in the offing as a result of the story.

I guess the question is whether there was a “workout” that would qualify as such. If Manziel, as part of his rehab to show teams he is ready, is throwing the ball in front of a bunch of scouts and if a Rider scout was there, does that qualify as a “workout”? And if say one of the receivers he was throwing to was a Rider, does that qualify as a Rider workout?

Then the addition of Phillip Lolley to the Tigercat staff as linebacker coach (He was here in Saskatchewan and apparently goes way back with Jones) raises questions like: does Jones’ long-time friend join Hamilton in exchange for Manziel neg list rights? The likelihood is no, because it appears Lolley wants an easier connection to family in the United States, but it does provide fuel to the speculation.

As a former reporter, I laugh at the legal action stuff, but this report following on the heels of the Vince Young neg listing (which is totally stupid, if this is the Riders plan, I am hiring a personal trainer and getting ready for my training camp spot as the next Ron Lancaster) begs the question of whether the Riders are desperate, or Kyle Walters, Justin Dunk’s former HC, is throwing a bit of shade.

As far as the Riders go, there is free agency next week where the fun starts and hopefully TSN gets its act together and starts promoting this stuff properly, and there is a long time before training camp. This reminds me of 2008 when the Riders traded Kerry Joseph to TO and went into camp with Marcus Crandall and Steven Jyles and a young Darian Durant in third and fourth spot and he emerged at the middle of the season to take the reins.

Not that this will happen this year, but it keeps things in perspective.

So if TSN was smart, they would get our Commish on to talk free agency and the draft and build up some interest. With an Inside Hockey and early draft editions of That’s’s Hockey, TSN’s lack of ideas of dealing with the CFL is frustrating and whatever can be said of the Manziel situation or lack thereof, at least the Riders are getting people talking about the CFL. But then we have Winnipeg making a great signing, Toronto occupying a terrifying vacuum heading into free agency and Montreal apparently looking to jettison a bunch of vets unless they take discounts.

And rather frustrating, interesting, is the lack of promotion for this CFL week in Regina. I want to take in the combine and various events, but there is absolutely no clue about what is being held when and where. If the CFL ever gets its act together, I plan to posting notes on what is going on!

So here is a list of what is coming up for CFL fans with the fun starting on Tuesday:
• Tues. Feb. 14th – CFL Free Agency period opens as of Noon Eastern
• March 10th – The Eastern Regional Combine (Montreal)
• March 17th – Ontario Regional Combine
• March 20th – 22nd – CFL Rules Committee & Competition Committee Meetings in
• March 21st – 26th – “CFL Week” in Regina.
• May 1st – CFL rosters reduced to 75
• May 7th – CFL Canadian Draft
• May 13th –, “U Sports” East-West Bowl in Quebec City
• May 28th – CFL Training Camps Open!!!
• June 6th – CFL Pre-Season Opens!!!
• June 22nd – CFL Regular Season Kick-Off!!

Toronto is still looking for a general manager and coach, although it appears Marc Trestman will be named as coach at the end of the week. Trestman had great success in Montreal, but when he went south of the border, he got canned in Chicago because he couldn’t turn Jay Cutler into a quarterback and got canned in Baltimore because he couldn’t make chicken salad out of the mess that is the Raven’s offense.

Tom Clements was released from Green Bay and his name was touted as a potential GM or coach, but apparently he wants both positions and you have to wonder about Clements after Green Bay took away his play-calling abilities. If Trestman is the coach and word gets out prior to free agency, that may help in bringing in likely Montreal players who will be released as Montreal struggles with salary cap issues.

Edmonton – signed Canadian WR Shamawd Chambers, recently released by the ‘Riders. Chambers was with Edmonton but was a free agent bolster last season with Jones and company to the ‘Riders, but has an injury bug and was released before the free agent deadline. Edmonton has also signed a contract extension with DE Marcus Howard, DB Nrynden Thompson, Kicker Sean Whyte, DB Marcel Young, and WR Vidal Hazelton recently. Expect the Riders to go after Cauchy Muamba, just to build the Muamba family franchise, John Ojo, Don Oramasionwu also on defense and maybe Shakir Bell, although the Riders may be leaning to an all Canadian backfield.

So the Riders head into free agency weekend with questions still at quarterback, but free agency may help tip the Riders hand on where they want to go. If the Riders add the defensive free agents from the Eskimos , then the Riders will likely depend on their defense to win games while they sort through the contenders at quarterback.

But in a larger sense, the Manziel thing points to something interesting that started with the Duron Carter signing. If Jones is selling himself and the Riders as an opportunity for talented, but troubled players, to prove themselves before trying again for the NFL, then Manziel makes sense and maybe Manziel is asking Hamilton to offer him a contract, and if they refuse, then he can dropped from their Neg list. It happened to the Riders with Rakeem Cato, the former Montreal quarterback.

If Manziel and Carter prove they can be good teammates and player and produce this year (For Carter) and in the next two years (for Manziel) then the NFL has to take notice of Jones as someone who can get the most from his players and Jones would be gone to the NFL at some point in time.

You have to admit, the conspiracy theories around the Riders are certainly more entertaining than what the CFL is promoting these days.

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