I genuinely believe that Johnny Manziel gets it now.
He understands that in an extremely short period of time, his life and career spiraled because of one bad decision after another. At age 25, Manziel is attempting a comeback to right the wrongs that led to him spending the past 2 years out of football. He says he’s clean, his circle is smaller than ever and he finally understands what it takes to be a good person and a successful professional athlete.
That was the message Manziel conveyed Monday as an unofficial launch to his comeback. Or, as his Texas A&M colored-sweatshirt says, “Comeback SZN.”
The former Aggie star and Heisman Trophy winner discussed that on “Good Morning America” and Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take.” His tone was serious, heartfelt and dare I say, adult-like.
That’s right. Johnny Football sounded like a real-life adult.
But sounding and acting like an adult are completely different things. The former is much easier than the latter. Acting like an adult is setting goals and accomplishing them.
Right now, Manziel’s goals are to stay sober, become a better person and get another shot at the NFL. Simply accomplishing that first goal will be a monumental task. Based on his GMA interview, it sounded like Manziel is passed rock bottom as a substance abuser:
In an interview with @GMA, Johnny Manziel said he has been diagnosed as bipolar and is taking medication for it.
His goal is to get back on the football field. pic.twitter.com/pYobONAEWs
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 12, 2018
Manziel’s admission of his bipolar diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise, and hopefully nobody viewed it as an excuse. He knows that there was no excuse for his drug usage, or his domestic violence incident with his then-girlfriend Colleen Crowley.
There wasn’t any excuse for the way he approached football, either. He didn’t have enough talent to succeed by simply doing the bare minimum. Nobody in the NFL does. Lost in the shuffle of the mess that was Manziel’s life was the fact that the electrifying player at Texas A&M was nowhere to be found in Cleveland. Part of that was his surroundings, but a lot of that was on him.
I hate to say it, but Manziel would have been given more opportunities to stick around had he actually been a good quarterback. You aren’t going anywhere in the NFL by completing 57 percent of your passes for 6.5 yards per attempt.
Well, unless you’re Peyton Manning, who actually did the same thing as a rookie. The obvious difference was of course that Manning was considered the biggest film room junkie in NFL history while Manziel admittedly didn’t realize that quarterbacks can’t just show up and leave the facility when everyone else does. If he’s ever going to succeed as a professional football player, Manziel has to take a Manning-like approach to film study.
That takes a commitment that few have. As Manziel said on Pardon My Take, that’s the reason guys like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have been so successful for so long. It’s more than a job. During those 2 years that Manziel spent in Cleveland, it probably felt too much like a job that prevented him from doing what he really wanted to do.
That prompted an interesting question during Manziel’s Pardon My Take Interview.
Does he still love football?
“I think that’s a great question,” Manziel said on Pardon My Take. “… After all the stuff that’s gone on, after (my redshirt sophomore year at Texas A&M) of being banged up, taking 5 days off and then going straight to training for the draft, straight through the draft hype and through that entire long process of being drafted and going straight back into spring training camp and then getting ready for my first season in the NFL, I could not wait for a break.
“I felt like I was so burnt out and so tired and I never really got a chance to clear my head … and I questioned myself after I got cut in Cleveland if it was really what I wanted to do.”
“Once it was taken away from me and once I didn’t have it, the hunger and the longing and the desire to have that in my life again was so strong that I had to get back on the football field and working out to try and make a comeback last year,” Manziel said. “… I’m happy where I’m at in my personal life, where my head’s at and the state of clarity that I’m in to be able to look back and acknowledge that I made a lot of mistakes.
“But at the same time, I don’t feel like I buried myself too deep to not climb my way out.”
Only time will tell if Manziel created too deep of a hole for himself. It sounds like at the very least, Manziel is equipped with all the mental tools he needs to climb out of that hole. But one misstep can result in him slipping back to the bottom.
All eyes will be on Manziel as he attempts this comeback, for better or for worse. If someone snaps a picture of him at a club, people will expect the worst. If he oversleeps a team meeting with his next professional football team (likely in the CFL), it’ll be viral news. If he does anything to make people think he’s still the old Johnny Manziel, his hole to climb out of will get deeper and his window of opportunity will shrink.
On Monday, we heard the new and improved version of Manziel.
Now, it’s time to see just how new and improved it really is.