Johnny Manziel will return to football next month, a little over two years after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns.
Manziel has chosen the Spring League over the Canadian Football League and will report on March 28 for a season that ends April 15. The 25-year-old quarterback, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012 as a freshman at Texas A&M, announced his decision to play in the four-game league in Austin on social media.
“Back in Texas where it all started,” he tweeted. “Can’t wait to get back on the field and show NFL scouts what I can do!”
Wanting to play football was never the problem for Manziel, who was the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Committing to the game was his problem and, after a number of off-the-field issues, the Browns decided that he wasn’t worth the trouble and no other NFL teams decided to take a chance on a man who had played in only 14 games over two seasons.
Now, after undergoing treatment for substance abuse and bipolar disorder, Manziel said he has changed.
“Going back throughout the last couple years of my life, I was self-medicating with alcohol,” he said in a recent “Good Morning America” interview. “That’s what I thought was making me happy and helping me get out of that depression to a point where I felt like I had some sense of happiness. But at the end of the day, you’re left staring at the ceiling by yourself and you’re back in that depression, back in that hole, that dark hole of sitting in a room by yourself, being super depressed, thinking about all the mistakes you’ve made in your life. Where did that get me? Where did that get me except out of the NFL? Where did that get me? Disgraced.”
A month after Manziel’s release by the Browns, he was charged with misdemeanor assault over an incident involving his former girlfriend, but the charge was dismissed last November after Manziel took an anger management course, attended a domestic violence victim impact panel and checked into a court-approved rehab facility. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last summer.
“At the end of the day I can’t help that my wires are a little bit differently crossed than yours,” Manziel said. “I can’t help my mental makeup of the way that I was created. But I know if I stay on these meds and I continue to do what I am doing right now … I think my dad, I think my mom, I think [Manziel’s fiance Bre Tiesi], would all agree that they’ve seen a drastic change.”
Manziel and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL had been engaged in talks, but, when he chose to play in Texas, the Ti-Cats said they “wish Johnny Manziel well as he embarks upon a return to football.”
Unaffiliated with the NFL, the Spring League, in its second season, is a scouting event designed to be “an instructional league and showcase” for talent. More than 20 teams are expected to attend practices and the league’s four games. And, if Manziel impresses someone enough, there’s time for him to attend organized team activities, which begin April 15 (for teams with new coaches) and April 16.
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