Johnny Manziel was once one of the most electric athletes in all of college sports, but he, along with several other draft ‘busts’ had their play decline heavily over the first couple of seasons.
From winning the Heisman as a redshirt freshman to playing in a fan controlled football league, Johnny Football has seen it all from a football standpoint, but what about the off-field antics that put Manziel in the position he is today?
In June of 2012, Manziels string of criminal issues began with Manziel finding himself in jail after being arrested and charged for carrying fake identification as well as fighting. Months later in November of 2012, the legend of Johnny Football is born with a great performance including 253 yards and two touchdowns, along with another 92 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in A&M’s 29-24 upset over No. 1 Alabama.
December of 2012 rolls by and Manziel was voted as the Heisman Trophy winner solidifying his magical season. Manziel also became the first freshman player to win the award. Later that season, A&M took on the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl and had a great game notching themselves another bowl win. After the game, Manziel posted an Instagram photo flashing a fistful of cash captioned “casino ballin.” The photo was quickly deleted, but Manziel justified his post by saying, “nothing is illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money…KEEP HATING!”
In the summer of 2013, Manziel showed up late several times and the coaching staff decided Manziel needed time off and sent him home.
A month later, the NCAA launched an investigation to determine whether Manziel was signing various types of memorabilia in exchange for cash. With a lack of evidence, Manziel was just suspended for the first half of the season opener against Rice.
Manziel went through the season and ended his college career with a comeback that started at 38-17 entering halftime against Duke. Manziel then led the Aggies to a 52-48 comeback victory after he threw for four touchdowns and ran for another. He set school records in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completion percentage and total offense in a single season.
In 2014, Manziel entered the draft and the Cleveland Browns selected the QB with the 22nd overall pick. Manziel was excited to be a Brown and attempt to turn the franchise around.
After that, several images and videos surface on Johnny Manziel, one being him drunk on an inflatable swan; and the other being a video of Manziel yelling,” I can’t hear you! There’s too much money in my *explicit* hand!” Manziel then finds himself checking into a rehab in February of 2015 for alcohol and substance abuse. Manziel was focused on completing the rehabilitation and then returning to the Browns to be the starter they drafted in the first round.
After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Manziel retired his famous “Money Manziel” celebration that made his name as big as it is today. Manziel’s focus was now on maturity and becoming a better man and teammate. At this point in Manziel’s career, the Browns see him him as a potential starter that will compete with Josh McCown for the starting role in the 2015 preseason.
Due to elbow soreness, Manziel could not prove himself for most of the preseason but he was still in Cleveland’s back pocket in case McCown was inconsistent or injured which unfortunately ended up being the case.
McCown had a short absence after suffering a concussion, so Manziel got the chance to fill in and put together a 2 touchdown, winning effort against the Titans. Once McCown was cleared, he was once again named the starter over Johnny Manziel.
Later that season, McCown announced he would miss a divisional matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals meaning Manziel would get the nod at QB. The hype was large and the commotion was loud for Manziel and his chance to once again hit the NFL field for the Browns, but it was all for not as the Browns ended up getting blown out 31–10.
After the loss, the bad side of Manziel is unleashed as later in the season finale Manziel missed the team meeting because of partying issues the night before.
Months later, Nike dropped their deal with Manziel and the Browns kicked Manziel to the side and decided to go elsewhere for a new QB. Shortly after his release, reports surface about Manziel and domestic abuse accusations and the police begin to interview and question Manziel several times.
After a full year of court hearings and lawyer payments , Manziel finally found his way back to Football when the Canadian Football League accepted Manziel’s rather toxic ego into their organization. Unfortunately, Manziel was not eligible for the new football league and had to stay home once again.
Manziel who missed the game he loved told TMZ that he would play in the NFL for free. He told reporters it was not about money but about getting back to the game he loves and enjoys to play.
Manziel eventually got his CFL contract for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after sitting for over three years.
Manziel’s stint ended in the CFL and showed more interest in joining the XFL to add to his NFL comeback, but the league was exploded after the COVID-19 pandemic got out of hand.
Now, Manziel plans to join the newly made fan-controlled league and make a run at a golf career in his near future which could be harder said than done.
Manziel’s story is a long and bumpy one, but he is on a higher road as of now to a NFL comeback that could potentially get him back on track in terms of personal and professional life.