Johnny Manziel cleared to resume career in Canada

(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."

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SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the star of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns laughs while stretching prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans on September 20, 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 28-14. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns listens to Joe Haden #23 on the sideline during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns runs out of the tackle of safety Coty Sensabaugh #24 of the Tennessee Titans during a game on September 20, 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 28-14. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the field during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Browns 30-9. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field after the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 07: Former Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel at Kyle Field on November 7, 2015 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns awaits the snap during a game against the San Francisco 49ers on December 13, 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 24-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - DECEMBER 11, 2015: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field during a practice on December 11, 2015 at the Cleveland Browns traininst facility in Berea, Ohio. Cleveland will host the San Francisco 49ers on December 13 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Browns 30-9. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns rushes against defensive end Cassius Marsh #91 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 30-13. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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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)

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