Johnny Manziel says he’s feeling better, and that doesn’t have much to do with going 36-of-38 passing against air in a pro day workout yesterday.
The former Browns first-rounder told Bruce Feldman of SI.com that he’s almost 90 days sober, and hasn’t done any hard drugs in over a year. For him, that’s as important as another chance to play football, as he detailed his recent struggles and having to tell old friends he’s committed to making a real change.
“I let them know, ‘Hey, I gotta be selfish in what I’m doing,'” he said. “I gotta do this for me. Listen, I’m not gonna block your number but if I don’t text you back and I don’t answer your calls, don’t be offended. I’ll call you when I get bored and I wanna say what’s up. But don’t invite me on any trips. Don’t tell me to go to Texas to go to [friggin’] Sixth Street. None of that.’ The people I know that are in my life that by no fault of their own are going to want to do something that I just don’t have the luxury of doing anymore. When I first got in the league, did I have some leeway? Sure I did, but I have exhausted all leeway and all second chances. This isn’t the second chance. This is the 35th chance. This is the last of the last chances to show people that I’ve made a drastic change in my life, and it’s for the better and I’m happy with where I’m at.
“I need to be safe for myself. I’ve let multiple people know—guys that had been around me for years, I reached out to a multitude of people and said, ‘Listen, I’ve never been selfish in my football career. I’ve always flown you guys to every game. I’ve gotten you tickets. I’ve done everything. But for now, I’m selfish with what I need to do because I don’t have room for you guys to come around and for me to get off on a bad path. It just can’t happen. I’m happy. I’m married and I’m doing what I’m doing. My wife is my buffer with all of the bulls—. She doesn’t let me get away with any of the B.S. She’s just straight to the point. She has my best interest at heart, and there’s times where I don’t like it. I’m still a stubborn guy—I don’t like listening all the time. I’ve had a lot better sense of being able to sit back and reflect, even if it’s a daily reflection. I have that backstop. I’m working with good people and I’m working the majority of the day.”
Manziel admitted that people are used to hearing him talk about such things — and that he’s good at the talking. He’s also saying all the right things right now.
It will be interesting to see if the combination of his counseling, his medication after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his work with a personal quarterback coach (George Whitfield, who has worked with Philip Rivers and Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger and others) is enough to get him back on a field. He’s set to leave next week to prepare for his stint in the Spring League, which he hopes is a springboard to a camp invite.