Johnny Manziel named CFL.ca’s newsmaker of 2018

TORONTO — Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel was the centre of attention in the Canadian Football League in 2018.

On Saturday, the Montreal Alouettes’ quarterback was named CFL.ca’s Newsmaker of the Year, as the third annual year-end awards were voted on by seven CFL.ca writers.

“I don’t think there was a story that drove the CFL through the off-season and into the season like Johnny Manziel,” said Jamie Nye. “While he didn’t wow anyone with his ability, there was rarely a week that Manziel wasn’t in the headlines. Well … until the playoffs.”

From a summer blockbuster trade to his miserable CFL debut, fans couldn’t stop talking about Johnny Football this season, but he wasn’t the only one. Bo Levi Mitchell, Travis Lulay and Lewis Ward were among other players who made their mark in 2018 in a season of record-breaking achievements, dramatic comebacks and last-second victories.

As we welcome the start of a new year on Tuesday, CFL.ca’s writers and staff voted on year-end accolades for eight major categories: Newsmaker, Person, Story, Comeback, Breakout Star, One-Game Performance, Game and Canadian.

Let’s look back on the best of 2018 (and even some honourable mentions) in the eyes of our writers:

NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR:

JOHNNY MANZIEL

Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

The numbers would suggest there was nothing remarkable at all about Johnny Manziel in 2018. The Alouettes’ quarterback, who was acquired mid-season before moving into and out of the starting role, finished with 1,290 passing yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games.

Yet when No. 2 took the field, you couldn’t help but watch.

“Whether you enjoy the Manziel experience or not, the guy demanded more headlines in 2018 than anyone else,” said Marshall Ferguson.

“Tough to argue against his selection,” added Don Landry. “If the category recognizes the person who made the most waves in the CFL news cycle in 2018, Manziel fits the bill perfectly and it isn’t really close.”

Manziel was by far the most consensus choice among this year’s eight award winners, taking five of the seven votes.

Writer Picks: Newsmaker of the Year

VOTER SELECTION
Jim Morris Johnny Manziel
Marshall Ferguson Johnny Manziel
Chris O’Leary Johnny Manziel
Don Landry Johnny Manziel
Matthew Cauz Bo Levi Mitchell
Pat Steinberg Bo Levi Mitchell
Jamie Nye Johnny Manziel

The former Texas A&M star and NFL first-round draft pick ended a months-long contract standoff, signing with the Ticats in May. In the summer he was the centrepiece of a rare blockbuster deal, involving five players in total and two first-round picks, sending Manziel to the Alouettes.

For all the hype, the 26-year-old didn’t quite deliver. Manziel’s first career start was a spectacular struggle, throwing four interceptions in a 50-11 loss to his former team. After suffering a concussion, he was replaced by Antonio Pipkin, who took control of the starting job and kept Manziel stapled to the bench for more than a month.

It wasn’t until his seventh start that Manziel would record his first win, but it’s worth noting he improved along the way, throwing five touchdowns against just two interceptions in his last five starts.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell took the other two votes as the honourable mention.

“Already with an MOP under his belt, Mitchell had the best regular season of his stellar career and added another MOP nod,” said Pat Steinberg. “He capped it off with a Grey Cup victory over Ottawa and is now trying his hand south of the border. There weren’t very many bigger newsmakers in 2018 than Bo.”

Last Year’s Winner: Duron Carter

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Today's CFL is more than just our great game of football. It's fans sharing their excitement for what they see on the field, and what they experience off it. Stay up to date on all the non-stop action at CFL.ca. And join all of Canada as we celebrate the 105th Grey Cup, presented by Shaw, this November in Ottawa.
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