Whether you loved him or hated him, virtually every football fan in the country knew about Johnny Manziel. After the Texas A&M quarterback burst onto the scene in 2012, he seemed destined for stardom. That, of course, never happened, and Johnny Football’s NFL career crashed and burned.
After spending time in the Canadian Football League and the Alliance of American Football, Manziel finally seems ready to leave the gridiron behind. And, despite what you might think, he couldn’t be happier.
The rise and fall of Johnny Manziel
These days, Johnny Manziel is more of a cautionary tale than anything else. During his ‘prime,’ however, the quarterback became one of the biggest names in football.
While Manziel started his college career on the bench, he took over the Texas A&M starting job as a sophomore. Once under center, he turned into a force of nature; the quarterback threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 1,410 more yards and 21 additional scores, en route to the Heisman Trophy. Johnny Football, the scene-stealing, money-gesturing, pop culture figure, was born.
After one more season with the Aggies, Manziel entered into the 2014 NFL draft. While many teams shied away from the unconventional quarterback, the Cleveland Browns took a chance on him. That gamble, however, wouldn’t pay off.
Manziel spent two seasons with the Browns before getting cut after the 2016 campaign due to a combination of poor performance and off-field issues; he only started eight games, throwing for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He then spent some time in the Canadian Football League before a brief stint in the Alliance of American Football.
Johnny Football won’t be hitting the gridiron anytime soon
During the 2019 AAF season, Johnny Manziel suffered a concussion while playing for the Memphis Express; the league folded before he could return to action. It seems like that will be the last down the controversial quarterback ever plays in professional football.
“[A football career is] in the past, probably, is the way I’d characterize it,” Manziel told Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I’ve finally got to a point where I’m trying to achieve happiness in life, not happiness on the football field.”
While that may seem like a shocking revelation for a man who literally branded himself as Johnny Football, the former quarterback seemed pretty sure about his choice.
“I know a lot of people probably want me to come back and play and give it another chance, but I don’t know, as far as being a person and figuring out life as a young adult — trying to make it and figure it out — if I’ve ever been in a better place than I’m in right now,” Manziel continued. “I can honestly say I’m happy, and I’m doing the right things to try and put a smile on my face every day, and that means more to me than going out and grinding on a football field.”
Johnny Manziel might not be a football player anymore, but he finally gets it
In retrospect, Johnny Manziel’s football career can serve as a cautionary tale. While the quarterback had plenty of talent, he seemed too busy having fun to ever fully apply himself. In 2020, however, he finally seems to understand that reality.
“During that time when I got drafted, I didn’t put in the time that I needed to be a great player, and I don’t think my heart was in it,” Manziel explained to Williams. “And I think when I went back to Canada, it was the same way. I truly believed and truly thought it was what I wanted to do, and my heart wasn’t in it, and it worked out the way it did.”
While that realization might have come too late to save his football career, Manziel does seem to be in a better place now. He’s no longer on top of the world, but that’s far from the worst that could have happened.
“When you get to thinking that you’re too good or you’re better than the game, it’ll humble you. And that’s what happened. I got humbled,” he said. “Thank God I did get a chance to be humbled, because when you think you’re at the top of the world, it’s a dangerous place.”