If you’re going to play sports for a living, make sure you live in rented housing. Buying is never a wise option, according to Danny McManus, because “that’s the kiss of death.”
The old quarterback has been living in Hamilton for almost a decade, and he still doesn’t own property in Ontario. He owns in his native Florida, where he spends time in the off-season, but not in Canada. Because, eventually, almost everyone in the Canadian Football League has a day like he had yesterday – a day that could mark the end of his 16 seasons in the league.
McManus was traded to the Edmonton Eskimos as part of a deal that will send Jason Maas, a later-model quarterback, to the Tiger-Cats. Rumours of an agreement had been swirling for months, though the deal was not officially reached until this week.
In exchange for Maas and a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft, the Eskimos acquired McManus, offensive lineman Tim Bakker, non-import defensive back Imokhai Atogwe and the first-overall draft pick.
“I’ve been cut, I’ve done the free agency,” McManus said. “This is the first time being traded.”
The 40-year-old is expected to act as an insurance policy to 2005 Grey Cup MVP Ricky Ray next season, but the Eskimos refused to declare him publicly as such yesterday during a round of interviews. And McManus himself has not yet fully pledged to return to the playing field, opting instead to at least entertain offers from a different field.
“In TV or even in local business around Hamilton and stuff like that, there’s always been offers and things,” he said. “You never make a decision on football right after the season. You always wait until January or February because right after the season is too emotional.”
Of those other avenues, a new career in television might be the most promising. McManus has worked as an analyst on the CBC’s coverage of the CFL and drew praise for his work in the playoffs.
“I think he works on TV,” said Trevor Pilling, executive producer of The CFL on CBC. “His knowledge of the game is so deep. As a quarterback – probably a Hall-of-Famer – you’ve got to know the game very well, and Danny communicates pretty well. I think he’s pretty low-key, but he’s very bright and, I think, fairly eloquent.”
Host Brian Williams and panelist Greg Frers are expected to return next year, but there could be at least one empty chair left behind by the departure of Sean Millington. The 37-year-old vacated his spot when he ended his retirement to return to the Toronto Argonauts over the summer. His comeback as a running back ended when he ruptured his Achilles tendon late in the season, and he has not ruled out a return to training camp in the spring.
“The fact that Danny has appeared on our panel and has been a part of our broadcast team for a number of years,” Pilling said, “if he was interested in leaving the game behind, we would definitely be interested in talking to Danny.”
McManus threw for 2,544 yards this season, his lowest total in more than a decade. He stepped aside late in the season so the team could audition younger players and never complained of being singled out for blame during Hamilton’s dreadful last-place finish in the East Division.
He has thrown for almost 53,000 yards over 16 seasons, ranking second behind Toronto’s Damon Allen (69,322) for most in CFL history.
“He’s going to have to come in and compete for the second job,” Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia said. “Obviously, our starter is Ricky Ray here. But [McManus] has just got so much to offer because he’s seen so much throughout his career and I’m sure that he’ll be able to help us out in that regard.”
“I think coach Maciocia, like last year, has always been about competing at training camp,” Edmonton COO Rick LeLacheur said. “So if we sign some other quarterbacks, then whoever comes to camp, they’re gonna have to make the team … that includes everybody.”
McManus is entering the option year of his contract.
“A lot of great quarterbacks helped me in my first couple of years up here,” he said. “I didn’t really become a starter for five years, so I have no problems helping the young guys out and teaching them what people have taught me. It’s not an ego thing for me, it’s a team sport and I’ll be more than willing to help anybody out.”