After chatting with Good Morning America on Monday, quarterback Johnny Manziel gave an extended interview to the Barstool Sports Pardon My Take podcast. Here are excerpts from that interveiew, which can be found in full here.
Q: Is it comeback season right now?
Johnny Manziel: Every day for me right now really is [come back season.] The only thing I have on my plate right now is working out six day a week and playing a little golf on the side and trying to keep myself in a good place to get away from some of the things that I’ve been doing the last couple of years and try and learn from my mistakes and get back to what I love doing. I’m sitting here at 25-years-old with a lot of time ahead of me. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted the prime years of my life.
Q: What’s going with the CFL stuff, is that still on the table?
Johnny Manziel: Yeah, it’s definitely still on the table. As with anything, it takes a little bit of time. The season just ended with the NFL, the CFL ended a couple months before. Just taking some time and not rushing into anything and making sure everything is the right fit, I feel like that’s the biggest thing that’s going on right now.
Q: Over/under one start in the NFL for Johnny Manziel?
Johnny Manziel: I’m a little biased but I would say over. I know it’s not the easiest way back for me, I know where I’m at right now is not all sunshine and going to be smooth sailing but where I’m at and where I think my mindset is, that’s my goal – to get back there and be able to run out on the field as a starter again. I know it’s going to be a journey and it’s going to take some time but I still feel like I have the time to make it happen. That’s the long-term goal.
Q: Have teams reached out recently?
Johnny Manziel: There were some things that were transpiring last year that I thought really might work out that were not as well known to the public but behind some scenes where I thought we were making some progress. Once you get to the NFL Draft and guys start getting traded and the quarterback market kind of plays itself out, things start to slow down a little bit. That’s kind of where I’ve been at. So to say I have some interest is definitely true but it’s kind of hit or miss, right now I’m just trying to be patient. I didn’t hear anything from anybody last year until around Super Bowl time or a couple weeks after so now that the season’s over and people are looking and evaluating everything, all I can really do is try to stay the course of doing what I’m doing and give myself the best opportunity moving forward.”
Q; How are you going to earn back the trust?
Johnny Manziel: The most important thing is just being a good person in life, walking down the street, going about my daily life. And I can sit here with confidence and say if I hadn’t gone through what I’d gone through the last couple of years and shot myself in the foot and made my situation so bad and I don’t feel like I’d be in the headspace that I’m at today. I feel like I’ve been an entitled person that’s really hard headed and now that I look back, I’m about reflecting a little bit on my days in Cleveland, where things went wrong.
The people that were around me that were telling me things, that had a lot of experience that were really smart people, it just seemed to go in one ear and out the other with me because I was focussed on the wrong things or I was in a funk and not able to see it any other way.
Now I’ve had years to reflect on it, I’ve been sitting on the couch watching football for the last two years, watching it eat away at me, I’m able to feel what these people have said, truly feelingit in my soul to where I know that what I’m doing right now is right: stay out of the headlines, trying a do the right thing and put my right foot forward every day and if I can stack some of those days together, then I think I’m going to put myself in a good position to do that. But the main thing to gain trust back is just time.
Q: Are you totally sober now?
Johnny Manziel: I am. It’s what’s worked for me. I can sit here and say it with a straight face, I don’t function well and don’t do well when there’s alcohol involved. Do I feel like I have a physical dependency or anything like that? No, but the decisions I make when I do drink just aren’t as good as the ones I make when I’m clear-headed. I know it sounds really simple to say but it’s just so true in my life to see what happens when I don’t compared to what happens when I do. I know what the past is when I do so why not try something different if I’m really, truly, from-the-bottom-of-my heart trying to make a comeback.
Q: Did you go to rehab or AA?
Johnny Manziel: Obviously after my first year in Cleveland I went to a place for three months, the Browns fully supported me going there, wanted to work on myself. After being there for three months, I’m not going to say that I became an expert on addiction or alcoholism but I learned a great blueprint of what they give you to get ready to go back into the real world, what you need to do, steps you need to work, the meeting you need to go to. The thing I’ve done mostly in the last year and a half or two years is go to more therapy and see a psychiatrist to make sure I’m where I need to be mentally and still continue to do some of the other things on the side, as far as AA and things like that. I really just try to take care of my mental health and go see a therapist and walk somebody through my week. That’s been one of my biggest keys to success.”
Q: You got drafted the same time Lebron came back to Cleveland… what was that relationship like?
Johnny Manziel: The guy couldn’t have tried anymore. When I was going through my NCAA ‘scandal’ at A&M, every day I would get up and go to training camp and Bron would text me almost every day ‘just keep your head up, don’t worry about anything, all the outside noise.’ At this point in time, I was 20-years-old, I didn’t know how to handle the national media pressure without checking Twitter and letting it get in my head or seeing it on a website. He tried super-hard to keep me grounded and that was really the start of our relationship.
I feel like I never really gave Cleveland a chance. I was negative about it in my own personal space… I think I was pissed at the world and mad where I ended up drafted… I think I felt a sense of entitlement, like I was owed to be drafted higher or go somewhere where I wanted to go when in reality, I had no control over that. But LeBron tried his best. My first six months in Cleveland, I hardly did anything, I was just in a funk that I couldn’t get out of and didn’t give it much of a chance.”
Q: If you kill it in the CFL, would you give Cleveland another shot?
Johnny Manziel: I would think not. We’ve been down that path, we’ve seen it and just don’t see what the benefit would be to do that all over again… being thrust into a starting role right away, I wasn’t ready after year one. I didn’t know what it took to really study and grind the way these guys do, guys like Tom Brady, guys like Drew Brees, the guys who are really, really high-level players. They are high-level players because they are in the facility every day, they know every coverage, they’ve seen every snap of the opponent they are about to play. I didn’t understand that and Cleveland, they definitely didn’t help me learn. I had no idea what I was supposed to study, no idea what an NFL schedule was supposed to look like. I thought if we were supposed to be there at 7:30 in the morning, you get there at 7:25 and when you’re done at 6, you go home. In reality, when Josh McCown got there the next year, that’s not how it was. He was like ‘hey, let me put you under my wing and show you what it’s like, I’ve been doing this for 15 years.’ If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have figured out anything, what it takes to be good. It takes a team at the end of the day to really go out and be good but individually, knowing what you’re doing with a solid, established starter that can teach me, show me the ropes would have been ideal for me.
Q: Do you love football?
Johnny Manziel: It’s a great question. As I go back and review everything in my past, I feel like I got to a point – and this should never happen – with all the stuff that went on… I could not wait for a break. I was so burnt out, so tired that I never really got a chance to clear my head. I think for a time I was just a little burnt out and I questioned myself after I got cut in Cleveland if it was really what I wanted to do, if it was what I really loved. After two years… once it was taken away from me, the hunger and longing the desire to have that in my life again was so strong, I had to get back on the football field and try and make a comeback. I feel like my future is bright, brighter than it was the last couple of years. I have a guaranteed contract offer where I will be able to play somewhere this year. That’s a given. When that’s signed or where it is or what the case is, I don’t know the exact details of it yet. But I can sit here and say that I will be back on a football field this year. I cannot [expletive] wait to do it.
I’m happy about where I am in my personal life, where my head’s at, the state of clarity I’m in and to be able to acknowledge that I made a lot of mistakes but at the same time I don’t feel like a buried myself too deep to not climb my way out. Hopefully, along the way, some people forgive me and see that I was just a kid that was lost and caught up in the wrong things and had the wrong mindset and was extremely selfish. I feel like I had a blatant disrespect and I apologize for that publicly right now and hopefully, I can be forgiven and move forward and turn over a new page for my life.
Note: this interview has been condensed.