Johnny Manziel Says He's Sober And Eager to Return to NFL

By McCarton Ackerman 01/24/17

"I refuse to let my entire life of sports from the age of four be squandered by partying. I just got sick of it."

Johnny Manziel
Photo via ABC News/YouTube

Johnny Manziel has claimed to have shed his partying ways and desperately wants another chance to play for the NFL.

The 24-year-old was picked by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL draft after a hugely successful college career at Texas A&M University. But his inconsistent play and erratic behavior off the field led to a 10-week rehab stay in 2015, shortly after his rookie season. Manziel continued partying after treatment.

He was later under investigation after an ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in February 2016. By April, Manziel had been dropped by his manager, marketing agency and Nike. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, though he had already been cut by the Browns in March.

But the former NFL player insists he has turned his life around and gotten sober on his own. He said in a message to ESPN’s Ed Werner that the thought of losing his livelihood scared him straight, and that he's determined to restore his reputation.

“I refuse to let my entire life of sports from the age of four be squandered by partying. I just got sick of it. One day I didn't like what I saw in the mirror and realized I could really help people in the position I'm in,” wrote Manziel. “I love sports, I love football and when you take something away from yourself you realize it the hard way. The happiness from doing it sober has been ASTRONOMICAL. Beyond my wildest imagination and once that continued other good things started happening in my life and it just clicked.”

Manziel has been showing off his new attitude on his now-deleted Twitter account. He wrote on January 19, “Haven’t been this happy in a long time man. I appreciate all the people in my life who reached out during the truly rough patches in ’16.” The football player also tweeted that same day, “No lie.. I was a douche in 2016, I'm just trying to be a good PERSON again #LostInTheSauce.”

But while he appears sincere in his efforts, it may take time before others take his comments at face value. His attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a text message to the Associated Press last June that expressed concern about Manziel’s ability to stay sober. That same day, his father, Paul, told ESPN that he was mentally preparing to bury his son.

“He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses,” said Manziel's father. “I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I'm doing my job, and I'm going to move on. If I have to bury him, I'll bury him.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.