Eight takeaways from a remarkable Johnny Manziel interview

Quarterback Johnny Manziel gave a long interview to TSN 1050 in Toronto on Tuesday and while the broad themes of redemption and resurrection remained at the fore, there were a couple of new details. It’s become increasingly clear that Manziel has put a lot of thought into how, exactly, he went from winning the Heisman Trophy, to a first-round NFL draft pick to out of football in a remarkably short period of time.

The whole thing is pretty interesting – and long – and judging from the reaction on social media, Manziel is winning people over with his candour and humble approach to his opportunities.

Here are eight takeaways from the interview, which can be found here:

1. He has a pretty good understanding of how it all went wrong. Manziel told a couple of interesting anecdotes about how sudden fame and fortune changed him – and not for the better.

“My first year at Texas A&M, nobody knows who I am, I’m red-shirting. Fast forward eight months later, I’m on stage in New York accepting the Heisman Trophy. A month later, I’m going on Drake’s website buying his hoodie and I get an email coming out of class, and somebody from his company has emailed me and pretty much started my friendship with Drake. Within a span of eight months, I went from meeting the only person I wanted to meet on my bucket list, coming to Toronto becoming friends with this individual and still have a good relationship with him to this day. So many things like that happened in my life that were beyond my wildest dreams.”

“First day I turn pro, I do a McDonald’s commercial with LeBron and four other top-tier athletes. It got to the point where I was just blown away by it all. After I got drafted and things started happening in my personal life, I stopped focusing on football itself and more what it was doing around me, focusing on the VIP access, let me try and do this because this is what I think is going to make me happy.

“So I did it all in 2016. I had the access, I had the means to do it and I didn’t know where I was at in my football career. I really questioned whether I loved the game anymore. I sit two years later and look back… watching guys go out and flourish, watching other guys get a chance to play ball and do something that, deep down, I know that I love, it’s been hard for me. It makes me take a different approach to The Spring League. I get to go into a locker room, talk crap with the boys, I get to have fun doing something that I’ve missed for two years and I appreciate it.

“At a certain point in time after I got drafted, I expected certain things and I let everything get to my head. Definitely the fame, definitely the money change how I was on a daily basis and I have a lot of regrets with that.”

2. Football is a big part of how Manziel is dealing with his mental health issues.

“People have asked me if I feel that getting back into football so quick is going to be detrimental in my personal life and I say no. When I wake up every day and I throw and then I go to the gym, that’s a solid day of work and it makes me happy in what I’m doing. it gives me something to look forward to the next day rather than sitting on the couch and watching Netflix like I was doing for two years. It helps me get out of the depression that I’ve been in in the past. It’s good for me.”

3. He’s aware of the Johnny Manziel hype machine – and that it may impact his opportunities going forward.

“I’m not going to be able to dumb down the hype… Texas A&M we left a lasting impression on college football, whether it was my style of play, the way I played or whatever the case may be. That hype doesn’t die down. I’m in The Spring League here that nobody has ever heard of… still the cameras the first day, still all the other stuff that it’s like I never left football. I can’t help that. I hope that’s not held against me.”

4. He’s come to understand that putting in the work is going to be a key to his success – and that he wasn’t as committed to it early in his career.

“When I got to the NFL I’ll be the first to tell you it didn’t go the way I envisioned. I finally saw that I have been blessed with enough physical talent to be able to roll out of bed and go play football at a high level. Was there work put in at high school and college, of course. But when I got to the highest level, I didn’t know what it took. I didn’t know how to study the playbook, I didn’t know how to watch film. I feel like in my second year in Cleveland I started to learn from the guy in Josh McCown, who taught me how to be a pro so I feel like I have a good blueprint and understand the work it takes.

“Now I’m able to look back and see why guys like LeBron, why guys like Tom Brady, why the top athletes are the way that they are: yes, they are incredibly talented but at the end of the day, it’s the work they put in day in and day out focusing on their craft that makes them good. I truly believe that.”

5. He’s talked to Doug Flutie about playing in the CFL and has heard the comparisons.

“Everybody I’ve talked to has said my style would fit. A lot of people come up to me and refer to Doug Flutie. I talked to Doug Flutie about this and he has said great things about the game, how much fun he had, how awesome it was.”

6. He knows he’ll have to earn a job if he comes to Hamilton and that some of the things his agent said in the early going may have rubbed people the wrong way.

“For me, it’s going to be about paying my dues in the building. I remember walking in the locker room in Cleveland for the first time: the perception of who I am and meeting me are two completely different things. I feel like I’m a lot different than that perception and I feel like a lot of my ex-teammates will say that. But I realize that with some of the ways things have gone contract-wise, the way things have gone with talks that may make it seem that I’m down playing the league we’re thinking that I’m going to come up there and do very well at the very beginning – still a right that I have to earn. If I get to Hamilton, looking at the situation, Jeremiah played very well last year. I watched the games, I kept in touch and started paying attention.”

7. He named dropped some CFL quarterbacks and said the style of play suits him.

“If the opportunity does come and that’s the path that I do choose, I’m excited for it. The wider field… you see guys having success who have been in – Bo Levi Mitchell for example, who was at SMU, I watched him throw the ball all around in college, that style of play is fitting him very well. A guy like James Franklin, same way. A guy like Jeremiah Masoli, same way. I feel like guys that are doing well up there right now are guys who have been in similar systems to me in college.

“I don’t want anything handed to me and that’s the main point I want to make. I don’t expect anything. I expect to be treated like another one of the guys up there even though media-wise and some of the other ways I won’t be.”

8. He’s never been to Hamilton but didn’t take a shot at it when he had the chance. One of the Toronto radio hosts took a veiled jab at Hamilton, calling it “a different town” but Manziel said that’s just fine.

“I have a couple of people that I know that are from Hamilton that I met in Toronto so I vetted it out a little bit. I know it’s not Toronto. I obviously don’t know the city, I’ve never been there but nonetheless, that’s good for me. I don’t need all the excess stuff. If I come up there, it will be a full commitment…  I’m up there to play football. That will be my focus if I end up in Hamilton.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1570 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

31 Comments on Eight takeaways from a remarkable Johnny Manziel interview

  1. Paul Bomber // April 4, 2018 at 10:00 am //

    gawd… sigh….
    How much are you getting paid to pump up the manzielgasim hype machine? ‘Cause I can’t think of any other reason for the non-stop speculation.

  2. Drew Good job on passing on some of the comments made by Johnny Manziel. I do get a sense he may be coming up to Hamilton. We will know by May after spring league and a week or s after the draft. Training camp opens May 20 th in CFL.

  3. This is a good article. Lots of new things here, and he’s still saying and doing all the right things as well. I’m becoming a fan. It was smart of him to talk to Flutie. As an American who did not grow up with CFL football, and who has the same style of game as Manziel, he can tell him things and relate to him in a way few other people can.

  4. The guy is saying all the right things that’s part one. Part 2 can he play and is he willing to give it 100% on the field?? How will he deal with things if he struggles or success comes too quickly time will tell I suppose..

  5. Jeff May // April 4, 2018 at 10:58 am //

    Try being in early 20’s with all of that and see how you handle it! Just saying!

  6. It sounds good but time will tell. If he comes to HAMILTON and maintains that attitude good for him. Masoli is still number one.

  7. CowtownDave // April 4, 2018 at 11:34 am //

    Are you guys getting paid by the Manziel article? Good grief.

  8. This is a good JM article. I actually really enjoyed it. I think its pretty obvious he would use the CFL as a stepping stone back to the NFL, but it would be exciting to see him play here for a couple years. He does seem to be saying all the right things. …and I could see him beating out Masoli for a starter spot. OR Masoli losing it if he doesn’t play the way Kent and co. thought he would.

  9. Doesn’t sound like Montreal is on his radar if they traded for him. Montreal as a city might be too much for him – he might be better off in Hamilton he says, than Toronto.
    He is a player like any other who needs to have a realistic contract and see if he can make a team, hype or no hype. American QBs generally do not do well in the CFL unless they have backed up a few years.
    All the best to him. And all the CFL rookies.

    • Franks,, I have no exhaustive study but more than a few US QBs have done well in First CFL contract such as… Chuck Ealy, Joe Theisman, Doug Flutie, Ricky Ray, and Zach Collaros. I am sure there are more. With June Jones as coach I would think Manziel would be closer to above list. Naylor mentioned in another piece that Burkhardt knows Mtl is still a mess football wise and they are focused on Hamilton and its slower nightlife.

  10. I have a feeling Manziel will be traded to MTL for their first round draft pick. I’m sure MTL would pay Johnny better than Hamilton. Does HAM even need another qb..MTL sure does and could use the manziel hype to sell more tickets. Good article BTW but I think all that can be said about Johnny has been said. Let’s move on.

  11. greenenvy? // April 4, 2018 at 2:06 pm //

    What stuck with me, like him or not, is a TSN radio interview with Naylor who was in on the Manziel meeting. Naylor mentioned in January in hockey mad Canada a piece on TSN on Manziel was the most viewed sports item that day on any sport. There is interest in Manziel like it or not. He also mentioned Manziel was the 1st football player EVER to make Time magazine’s cover. If he comes to the CFL, & I for one couldn’t have cared less, he will bring a lot of attention to the league & that’s a good thing. Still doesn’t do anything for me but I’m all for any exposure for the CFL. Hope he comes.

  12. greenenvy? // April 4, 2018 at 2:08 pm //

    To clarify, the Naylor radio spot where he commented on Manziel was this week. The TSN piece on Manziel was in January, not the Naylor comments.

  13. Billinburlington // April 4, 2018 at 7:33 pm //

    On listening to the whole interview I was impressed by the maturity and thoughtfulness that Manziel displayed in answering questions.

    Clearly one area of growth and development is his knowledge about Hamilton… clearly he didn’t get enough information, or the right information. Why on earth would he – as property of the Hamilton Tiger Cats – agree to an interview with TSN Toronto 1050, THE station that bills itself as “The voice of the Argos”? I’m sure that Kyle Mello and Marshall Ferguson on TSN 1150 Hamilton, “The Voice of the Hamilton Tiger Cats” were not too impressed. Both Probably have sore foreheads after banging them against a wall… not to mention the tension between these two stations.

    If he signs with Hamilton, he better first beat a quick path to 1150, otherwise forever feel the wrath of Ticat Fans forever – Not to mention being snubbed by the hometown media. At this point he needs all the support he can get, and found no lasting support via TSN 1050. Yup, Mr Manziel, you still have much to learn- especially about the rivalry between these two cities and their football teams… and the radio station that broadcasts the games of the only team that matters.

    • Awaiting Moderation // April 5, 2018 at 5:24 am //

      What in the world are you talking about?

      “the tension between these two stations.”?
      What tension? In your mind perhaps. They’re both TSN, not rival networks.

      “Why on earth would he – as property of the Hamilton Tiger Cats – agree to an interview with TSN Toronto 1050”? Maybe because they asked. Do you know for a fact that TSN 1150 asked for an interview?

      “Yup, Mr Manziel, you still have much to learn- especially about the rivalry between these two cities and their football teams… and the radio station that broadcasts the games of the only team that matters.”
      Yes, he probably doesn’t know about the rivalry yet. “IF” he ever is signed by the Tiger-cats, I’m sure the players and Hamilton media will educate him. If he gets traded to another team, say Montreal, then he doesn’t have to know or care about the rivalry.

      Your typical Hamilton insecurity is showing.

  14. NaYlor probably played matchmaker with his buddies at 1050 as he is down in TexAss right now covering TSL which will probably feed some players to CFL.

  15. Freelasagnahunter // April 4, 2018 at 10:05 pm //

    Good job Johnny. So good Drew couldnt spin it negative.
    Must have sucked to have to listen to the whole thing and have nothing to get fake offended at to generate more fake controversy.

  16. Sounds like Manziel has his head on straight and his priorities in order. Now just gotta see how things play out with his spring fling per say in the SFL and if a NFL team signs him. If he plays LIGHTS OUT for the SFL showcase I would expect a NFL team signs him. If they jerk him around then he should be CFL bound for 2018 and 2019.

  17. Good write up and article.

    If there’s a comparable to Manziel and the CFL, it’s not Bo Levi Mitchell, it’s Casey Printers.

    Printers left BC after his 2004 MOP win and as he exited he wrongly referenced Warren Moon

    Manziel is not like Flutie or if he was, he’d be coming to the CFL directly and not thinking its something he can decide post this Spring League.

    • Greg, Flutie had a long pre CFL oddysey with stops in USFL and NFL. Bo Levi kicked around NFL, Arena, and NFL Europe first. Not unusual for US QBs. This could change with emergence of Canadian born QBs playing at D1 FBS schools now. Scrap QB exemption now and make intl player slots a tradeable asset as MLS does.

  18. Saw Drake on the telly courtside watching raptors dismantling Celtics. Perhaps he pulled some strings to get Toronto the interview

  19. greenenvy…I bet everything Naylor writes or tapes about Manziel gets top or near top viewing. That is why he is on an all expenses paid junket to TexAss. His ad revenue justifies it. Manziel is a cross boarder North American Millennial icon in the same way Drake is.

  20. bleacher report live is in android mobile app store and will carry spring games

  21. TSN Toronto – seemed like an interview about the CFL not specifically the Ti-Cats. Sure TSN Hamilton will get as much access as they want if he signs. I didn’t see a problem. Grew up in Hamilton and have lived in Toronto – love both cities although they are different – different is good. Toronto obviously offers many things. Sometimes Hamilton gets talked about as if you can’t live in a beautiful house, eat at wonderful restaurants, visit beautiful parks and gardens or attend the Arts. The truth is you, of course, can do all of these things. I just want The Manziel Experience 2018 to be over one way or the other.

  22. Loser player for a loser league you guys should get along just fine

  23. Manz crashed the spring league stream

  24. from Gil Brandt 29 years with the Dallas Cowboys

    Manziel has been out of the NFL for two years and out of school for four. Problems with substance abuse and maturity — as well as an allegation of domestic violence that eventually was conditionally dismissed — caused things to go sideways in Cleveland, which was not in the best shape, organizationally speaking, when he entered the league. The former Heisman Trophy winner still has excellent ability, based on what he showed working out at Texas A&M’s pro day — he’s the kind of guy who can make plays with his feet and his arm. Additionally, he has great on-field leadership potential. I don’t think he’s lost any of his throwing ability or playmaking savvy. If he can stay out of trouble and sign on somewhere — and I think someone will take a chance and bring him in — he can still be a factor.

  25. Giving a 20 minute interview to a Toronto station and the way he’s talking about the CFL sure makes it sound like he’s coming to Hamilton. I think he stats the season at no. 2 but CFL QB’s rarely play all 18 games especially when you have a run and shoot offence which exposes the QB to more hits. I have a feeling he will get his shot in the middle of the year and we will see if he’s been able to absorb enough of the game by then… if he stinks it up in Hamilton he’s basically done as a pro… but if he does well… could make for a great movie one day… we’ll see!

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