After an illustrious career at Texas A&M, Manziel was selected 22nd in the 2014 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. He threw for just 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in 14 games over two seasons.
“During that time when I got drafted, I didn’t put in the time that I needed to be a great player and I don’t think my heart was in it,” Manziel said. “And I think when I went back to Canada [to play in the Canadian Football League], it was the same way. I truly believed and truly thought it was what I wanted to do, and my heart wasn’t in it, and it worked out the way it did.”
Manziel also was battling personal demons. The Browns cut him after two seasons that included a 10-week stint in rehab, a demotion to third string after video of him partying had surfaced, missing a scheduled concussion check-in because he was reportedly gambling in Las Vegas and allegedly hitting his then-girlfriend.
The month before his 2016 release from the Browns, Manziel’s father told the Dallas Morning News that he was concerned for his son’s welfare.
“I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday,” Paul Manziel said.
“I don’t know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help,” he said three months later. “He just hasn’t [sought] it yet. Hopefully he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses.”
Manziel made an effort to continue his football career despite his issues. He joined the Spring League in February 2018 before signing a two-year deal with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats that May. The club traded him to the Montreal Alouettes two months later. His stint in Canada ended in February 2019 when the CFL banned him. The Alouettes’ general manager said the quarterback “violated a condition of his agreement with the league.”
Manziel took his talents back to the United States when he hitched his wagon to the Memphis Express of the short-lived Alliance of American Football the next month. He appeared in just two games before the league folded.
“When you get to thinking that you’re too good or you’re better than the game, it’ll humble you,” Manziel said this weekend. “And that’s what happened. I got humbled. Thank God I did get a chance to be humbled, because when you think you’re at the top of the world, it’s a dangerous place.”
These days, Manziel said his life without football is on an upward trajectory. He lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and plays golf about six days a week.
“I know a lot of people probably want me to come back and play and give it another chance, but I don’t know, as far as being a person and figuring out life as a young adult — trying to make it and figure it out — if I’ve ever been in a better place than I’m in right now,” Manziel said. “I can honestly say I’m happy and I’m doing the right things to try and put a smile on my face every day, and that means more to me than going out and grinding on a football field.”
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