After winning the Heisman Trophy and gaining a reputation as one of the most exciting players in college football, Manziel was taken in the first round by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He started just eight games for Cleveland over two seasons, going 2-6 in those starts. After being released by the team, he would never get another NFL opportunity, leaving many what ifs about his career.
Manziel’s name has sporadically popped up in the football world since, from the CFL to the AAF. He most recently played for the Memphis Express in the now defunct AAF, appearing in two games. His stint in the CFL ended with the Montreal Alouettes cutting ties after seven games. Manziel was also barred from the CFL. He threw for 1,290 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions while north of the border.
Johnny Manziel: More Fun at Nightclub Than in Pads
Manziel is removed enough now to admit he simply lacked the work ethic to be great. Instead, he wanted to revel in the “Johnny Football” persona that he gained in college.
“Listen, I’m 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 years old with the world at my fingertips and I raged. Like, sue me,” Manziel said in an interview on the Subpar Podcast. “I had a lot more fun going to a nightclub and walking out with two girls than I did putting the pads on and going and grinding it out.”
On this week's @golf_subpar, Johnny Manziel reflects on how prioritizing fun off the field derailed his career on the field.
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) May 24, 2020
Manziel admits he would have done a lot of things differently and has a surprisingly level-headed take on his career.
“The thing that I’ve learned though time is you get out of the game you love what you put into it. It’s the same thing with golf, it’s the same thing with football,” Manziel said. “If you grind 12 hours per day, ten hours per day, whatever it is, and you go put your head down to it and that’s what you focus on, [you’re] destined for success. The second you start letting everything else on the outside creep in — not to mention letting what comes in on the outside absorb you more than the game you love — you’re headed for failure.”
Johnny Manziel at Peace With Football Career
While Manziel tried multiple times to spark his career, he recently tweeted he’s at peace with never playing again.
“If I never pick up a ball again it’s all love. I was the most lit, most relatable college football player to ever do it. Did things my way and made it way further than I ever could of imagined. The game gave me life and I’ll forever be grateful,” he wrote.
If I never pick up a ball again it’s all love. I was the most lit, most relatable college football player to ever do it. Did things my way and made it way further than I ever could of imagined. The game gave me life and I’ll forever be grateful
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) February 8, 2020
The Browns have struggled to fill the quarterback position, a problem that existed both before and after Manizel. The Browns took Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, despite the many comparisons to Manziel prior to the draft.
Mayfield, however, has already proven to have the work ethic and skill set that surpasses Manziel, leaving his college antics at Oklahoma — save for a beer chug or two.