CFL fans upset Johnny Manziel stayed benched in Alouettes debut

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel looks on from the sideline during second half CFL football game against the Edmonton Eskimos. (Graham Hughes/CP)

CFL fans wanted Johnny Football but they got Johnny Benchwarmer instead.

It had been 942 days since Johnny Manziel last saw action in a regular-season football game but that was expected to change Thursday night as Manziel’s Montreal Alouettes hosted the Edmonton Eskimos.

Manziel was acquired by the Alouettes over the weekend in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the 25-year-old had been practising with his new team for the past several days.

Mike Sherman told reporters earlier in the week that Manziel wouldn’t start right away but the Montreal head coach wanted “to get him on the field and give him his opportunity.”

Fans were expecting to see Manziel on the field at some point during the game but it didn’t happen — although it’s not as if there weren’t plenty of opportunities.

The Alouettes, despite taking an early lead, were blown out by a final score of 44-23.

The longer the game went, and the worse the score got, the more the spectators became restless.

Early in the fourth quarter, Manziel stood from his spot on the bench and put his helmet on. The crowd at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium cheered, thinking it might be time to see the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, but moments later his helmet was off and it became clear he wasn’t going to get on the field until it was time to walk back to the locker room.

The most action we saw from Manziel on the sidelines was when he was seen chatting with his former Texas A&M teammate Derel Walker, a star receiver on the Eskimos, during a late-game injury delay.

Sherman told reporters in Montreal following the game that he didn’t feel the timing was right to rush Manziel into action, likening it to “putting on a Broadway play with one day of rehearsal” and one cast member not knowing his lines.

Montreal’s offensive line wasn’t doing a good job protecting starting QB Vernon Adams Jr., and that too was a contributing factor as Sherman said he “wasn’t going to jeopardize [Manziel’s] career” by putting him in a precarious position.

Adams finished the game 15-for-28 for 217 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, adding 72 yards on the ground plus a rushing TD. He was also sacked six times.

Manziel’s final NFL appearance was on Dec. 27, 2015 when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns, the team that selected him 22nd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Just in case you’re curious, Manziel completed 13 of 32 pass attempts for 132 yards, no TDs and one interception in that game, while also rushing for a whopping 108 yards in a 17-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Alouettes host Manziel’s former team, the Ticats, next Friday.

It’s unclear at this time whether or not Manziel will make his debut then. It’s also unclear if Manziel will ever be able to regain the form he had in college that made him a superstar.

What was clear on Thursday, however, was that fans watching the game were not happy to see the CFL’s newest star glued to the bench.

Here’s a sample of some of the social-media dissent.

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