What happened to Johnny Manziel? His Rise, Fall, and Resilience To Move On

Johnny Manziel was associated with the word “headline” for seven years, from 2011 to 2018.

He’s back in the spotlight for the upcoming Netflix documentary “Untold: Johnny Football,” which follows his rise and collapse.

Johnny Football as a collegiate football star

During his time at Texas A&M, this collegiate star became a household name. The standout Aggies quarterback, nicknamed “Johnny Football,” earned the Heisman Trophy in 2012 for his 47 total touchdowns and mesmerising, devil-may-care play style.

Unfortunately, Manziel displayed the same reckless abandonment off the field, and he wasn’t nearly as charming there. Indeed, Manziel’s numerous off-field troubles were what ultimately destroyed his brief NFL career.

A Shot in the NFL and Warning Signs

There were warning flags coming from A&M. Johnny Manziel was frequently chastised for his swagger and his iconic “Money Manziel” touchdown celebration.

What happened to Johnny Manziel? His Rise, Fall, and Resilience To Move On
What happened to Johnny Manziel?

He received a half-game NCAA ban and was arrested for disruptive conduct and fraudulent identification as a redshirt freshman.

However, when the 2014 NFL Draught got around, the Cleveland Browns, long in need of a franchise quarterback, were enamoured with Manziel’s abilities and appeared to believe they could sort out the wrinkles.

A short-lived but chaotic career!

Manziel didn’t have to wait long to garner the wrong type of attention in the pros. During his first professional preseason, he made an obscene hand gesture towards the Washington bench, which made news.

He appeared to stay on the straight and narrow for the rest of his first season. In November 2014, there was a scuffle between a Manziel acquaintance and a supposedly inebriated fan, but Manziel was cleared of any culpability.

He received his first extensive professional photographs shortly afterwards. They were unimpressive.

In Year 1, Manziel threw zero touchdown passes. He completed slightly more than half of his pass attempts and averaged only five yards per attempt.

According to a Complex piece from January 2015 about the quarterback, teammates believed his hard-partying tendencies often left him unprepared and even hungover on game day. One unidentified teammate described his career as “100 percent a joke.”

What happened to Johnny Manziel?

Manziel checked himself into a drug and alcohol treatment centre in Pennsylvania around the end of January. Following his exit, he gave the following statement:

“I owe private apologies to many people I disappointed, but a public one to the Browns organisation and my supporters. I accept full responsibility for my conduct and want to work very hard to reestablish everyone’s confidence and respect.”

Throughout the 2015 season, Manziel kept a low profile. He had a couple of traffic violations, one of which allegedly involved a marital dispute, but no charges were brought.

In 2015, Manziel made some strides on the field. He had a few starts and won a couple of them. He had a favourable touchdown-to-interception ratio and was also useful as a ball carrier.

The Darkest Hours

Manziel’s second season in the NFL had been rather uneventful in comparison to the previous year. By no means was he overwhelmingly positive, but he wasn’t attracting as much unwanted attention until the end of the season, when he went out of his way to avoid notice.

Manziel had already been ruled out of the season finale due to a concussion, but his weekend plans in lieu of supporting his teammates were, well, questionable.

This weird Bleacher Report piece from January 2016 outlines how Manziel missed Cleveland’s final game of the 2015 season because he was partying in Las Vegas across the nation. In such a crowded city, though, a celebrity of Manziel’s calibre would almost certainly attract unwanted attention.

So he made tremendous efforts to avoid being discovered. Manziel apparently took the identity “Billy” and donned spectacles, a blonde wig, and other disguises. Wearing a fake moustache to evade detection while he partied till the early hours of the morning.

The Abyss and the Resurrection

While the “Billy Football” saga was amusing at times, the next chapter in Manziel’s life was considerably more disturbing.

A few weeks later, another Bleacher Report article recounted how Manziel reportedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, in Dallas, Texas. He allegedly battled with her inside and outside of a car, punched her in the ear with an open hand, and threatened to murder both her and himself.

According to sources, it wasn’t until they got to her flat that she realised what was going on. He fled the scene after someone pulled a knife on him.

Coming Out of the Shadows

The Browns eventually grew tired of Manziel’s erratic behaviour and the unfavourable publicity it generated and cut relations with him just over a month later.

The ensuing frenzy was disastrous for both Manziel and bystanders. He’d eventually face misdemeanour assault charges and be the subject of a no-contact restraining order to keep Crowley safe.

Manziel was soon back to his hard-partying habits. He appeared at Coachella and a few other prominent social gatherings looking significantly slimmer.

For a time, Manziel stuck to the only path he’d ever known: partying and football.

Manziel would return to the league after a year off to catch on in numerous different pro leagues. In 2018, he saw significant playing time with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, but his performance was generally unimpressive.

A Watershed Moment and Redemption

In compliance with CFL rules, the Alouettes terminated Manziel’s contract at the end of the season. Manziel was expelled from the league after failing to complete contractual obligations, according to USA Today.

The league did not specify which exact requirement Manziel failed to meet, but this sentence provides some persuasive insight:

“The CFL had refused to make those terms public, citing Canadian privacy laws, but Manziel told USA TODAY Sports that they included weekly therapy appointments, mandatory doctor visits, and monthly checks.”

Manziel had a cup of coffee with two more short-lived pro leagues, the Alliance of American Football and Fan Controlled Football, and his pro career appeared to be over.

A Sliver of Hope

To discuss what Manziel is doing now, we must revisit what he was doing previously.

When Manziel was released by the Browns, he reverted to his most common crutches: partying and substance abuse. Some believed that Manziel’s problems would eventually take his life.

However, according to ESPN, the former Aggies star claimed in his upcoming Netflix documentary that death was the ultimate goal.

“I had planned to do everything I wanted to do at that point in my life and spend as much money as I could. I was going to make as much money as I could, and then I was going to take my own life,” Manziel claimed in the documentary, according to various accounts. “I wanted to get as bad as humanly possible to the point where it made sense, and it seemed like an excuse and an out for me.”

He’d go on to admit that he’d even attempted suicide, only to be saved by a stroke of good fortune.

“I still have no idea what happened.” According to various sources, he claimed in the documentary, “But the gun just clicked on me.”

What Manziel is up to in his personal life these days is relatively unknown. Tuning in to “Untold: Johnny Football” on Tuesday, August 8, may provide some insight.

However, the fact that Manziel is still alive to feature in his own documentary rather than become the topic of it after his death is a win in this writer’s eyes.

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