Could ‘Johnny Football’ make a 2018 comeback?
Johnny Manziel has recently come clean in a tell-all series of interviews with Barstool Sports’ podcast “Pardon My Take” and Good Morning America.
In these interviews, which were the longest interviews he had done since last playing in the NFL in 2015, Manziel explains his rapid rise to fame while playing at Texas A&M from 2011 to 2013 and his even quicker decline once he entered the NFL.
“I never really gave Cleveland a chance,” said Manziel on Pardon My Take. “I was negative about it [going to the Cleveland Browns] in my own personal space. I felt like I was pissed at the world and just mad about where I ended up being drafted, what position I was drafted, and I think I felt a sense of entitlement like I deserved and was owed to be drafted higher or go somewhere I wanted to go, and in reality, I had no control over that.”
Manziel spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns before being released in 2016. He was released due to what former coach Mike Pettine described as a lack of discipline, including drinking and partying during the practice week and missing offseason workouts and meetings without explanation.
One such transgression included a raucous night out soon after being announced as the team’s starter ahead of a “Monday Night Football” game at Baltimore.
Manziel was admitted into a rehab facility for most of his offseasons in the NFL.
“I went to a rehab facility after my first year in Cleveland. I went to a place for three months. The Browns fully supported me going there and wanted me to just work on myself. So, after being there for three months, I learned a great blueprint of what they give you to get ready to go back into the real world.”
Manziel said that most of his recent success with alcohol has come due to seeing a therapist on a weekly basis. He has been going to therapy for about two years now and credits it as one of the biggest factors that has helped him turn his life around.
What really sparked the change in Manziel was seeing the effects that his behavior was having on his family. In one instance, he recalls that his mother had called him on the phone sobbing uncontrollably. Manziel recalled his mother saying people approached her to ask, “What the hell is your son doing?”
“I saw the trickle-down effects of what I was doing in my life that were meaningless and pointless and selfish,” Manziel said.
In an interview with ABC News, Manziel revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in early 2017. To combat that, Manziel has since given up alcohol entirely and has been taking medication for bipolar disorder.
Manziel had thought that he had always had a type of mental illness, but never received testing or treatment. Instead, he would try to self-medicate the mental illness that he presumes he had with alcohol.
“That’s what I thought would make me happy and get out of that depression,” Manziel continued. “When I would wake up the next day after a night like that, going on a trip like that, and you wake up the next day and that is all gone, that liquid courage, or that liquid … sense of euphoria that is over you, is all gone.”
Manziel said he has been completely sober since Jan. 1, 2017.
“It’s what has worked for me,” said Manziel. “I can sit here and say it with a straight face that I just don’t function well and don’t do well when there is alcohol involved. Do I feel like I have a physical dependency or anything like that? No. But, the decisions I make when I do drink are not as good as the ones I make when I am clear-headed. I know it sounds really simple to say, but it is just so true in my life.”
The legend of Johnny Football does not end here. In recent months, Manziel has been working on a return to professional football. Interest in Manziel has never declined, but instead been contingent on his off the field issues, which is why he has not been signed.
“There were some things that were transpiring last year  that I thought really might work out and were not as well known to the public, but behind the scenes where I felt like we were making some progress. To say I’ve had some interest is definitely true, but it is kind of hit or miss and right now I am just trying to be patient and hopefully I get an opportunity to prove myself.”
Recently, Manziel and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League engaged in contract negotiations. However, Manziel imposed a deadline of Jan. 31, and a deal wasn’t completed during that window.
Manziel’s future remains up in the air, much like when he first declared for the NFL Draft in 2014. The biggest difference this time, though, is that Manziel will have clear eyes, a full heart, and can’t lose. He has seen the bottom and has changed his ways and it should be exciting to see how he does once he gets back into the NFL.
Photo: In this Dec. 20, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel warms-up before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle. Former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel says he’s making a football comeback. Manziel announced Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, that he will participate in the developmental Spring League in Austin, Texas, which will play from March 28 to April 15. The league is designed for players hoping to impress NFL scouts. The league confirmed Manziel will participate.
(AP Photo/Scott Eklund, File)