Johnny Manziel is well aware that his NFL days were too much play, not enough work.
Looking back on his time as the Cleveland Browns quarterback, the former first-round pick said Tuesday on the “Ya Neva Know: You Know What I Mean?” podcast that he “enjoyed the play 50 more times” than the grind.
“I think my mind and my focus was on other places,” Manziel, now 27, said of his rookie NFL season. “I didn’t put what I needed to — heart, soul, everything that I did, and college — into the NFL because I didn’t like certain things about it.”
Selected 22nd overall by the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft, Manziel said Tuesday he was “more enamored with the fame aspect,” which included a slew of off-field antics, including a 2016 misadventure to Las Vegas. Looking back, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback believes his behavior led to the loss of respect from teammates.
“I absolutely, 100 percent lost their respect,” Manziel said. “Why wouldn’t you? If I was one of them looking back at what I was doing, and your decisions that you make off the field impact if I put food on mine, yeah I’d feel some type of way, 100 percent.
“I would say we wasted a draft pick to go get this guy who doesn’t give a f–k. And that’s my only thing in life that I haven’t been able to look back and fully have closure on.”
Manziel regrets choosing fame over bonding with his teammates, and “wasting” two years of lineman Joe Thomas’ career.
“I didn’t have the grind in my mind like I did to be great in college like I did in Cleveland, and I feel disrespectful to the guys who were there,” he said.
The Browns cut Manziel in 2016. Two years later, he opened up about his personal turmoil and substance abuse struggles in a candid interview with “Good Morning America,” where he addressed his bipolar diagnosis.
“I was self-medicating with alcohol. That’s what I thought would make me happy and get out of that depression,” Manziel said. “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’s football career included stints in the CFL and the now-defunct Alliance of American Football League. His personal life appeared to be trending upward in 2018 after marrying model Bre Tiesi in 2018. Though they split a year later, Manziel credits Tiesi for helping him grow as a person.
“I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for my relationship and getting married,” Manziel said. “I wouldn’t have the same attitude towards everything else if I wouldn’t gone through the divorce and stuff, too, if I wouldn’t have gone through that with Bre.”
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