INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – Johnny Manziel has confessed his sins multiple times in recent weeks during a variety of interviews, but what he had yet to do was take true accountability for letting the Browns and their fans down.
Manziel, who is trying to make a comeback to professional football, appeared on UNINTERRUPTED’s ThomaHawk Show podcast with Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and former Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins in which he did just that.
“I look back on it now and I’m kind of like ‘Damn, I wasted a little bit of Joe T’s career,'” Manziel said, referencing Thomas, who is still deciding whether or not to return to the Browns for a 12th season. “I was supposed to be the guy that was supposed to step up.
“I was extremely, extremely selfish. Extremely only cared about what I wanted, and I didn’t think about how my life and my decisions affected people around me.”
The Browns selected Manziel 22nd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft in the hopes that Johnny Football would resurrect the Browns in the same manner he revived Texas A&M’s program with his electrifying play.
Instead he was a colossal bust and the Browns kicked him to the curb after nearly two years of drama and irresponsible off-the-field behavior.
His release was not a surprise to him Manziel told Thomas and Hawkins.
“My agent told me ‘If Hue Jackson gets this job, he has a contingency in his thing that if he’s taking this job, the first thing he’s doing is coming in and getting rid of you,'” Manziel said. “So it wasn’t the end of the world, but I treated it as if it was the end of the world after sitting there with Jimmy and Sashi and feeling like they were going to bat for me.”
Manziel met with Haslam and Brown following his famed trip to Las Vegas during the final weekend of the 2015 season in which he was caught wearing a blond wig and mustache while partying on the Vegas strip.
“Crazily enough I still go back to Cleveland, I sit down with Jimmy [Haslam] and [former executive vice president of football operations] Sashi Brown and explained where I’m at mentally, what was going on in my home life, and was open and honest with them and I think they were still going to stick [with me.]
“It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but they still had faith that if I could get my head right and get where I needed to be mentally, that I still had a potential and a future there.”
Then Haslam and the Browns hired Jackson. His days in Cleveland, and subsequently the NFL, were done.
“There’s no hard feelings there,” Manziel, who also admitted that he “didn’t know what I was doing” in 2014 while detailing the demise of the once promising season that started 7-4, said.
But the story of his trip to Vegas remains legendary – and not in a good way – to this very day.
The story actually begins a week earlier during the Browns’ 17-13 loss at Kansas City in which Manziel took a hit in the third quarter of the game but stayed in because he didn’t want to go through the concussion protocol.
“[I] Go into the building Monday and I know I’m a little off,” Manziel said. “And the Tuesday off day comes and I go into the building for a little bit and at this point in time I had like three or four of my friends up from Texas. It was towards the end of the season and we see the light at the and of the tunnel. We’re 3 and whatever we are, and [it was] just the wrong mindset of being a little over it.
“And then once these guys came up there, they were in party mode. They were in ‘Let’s go to the basement and bang some March Madness and play pool and drink Four Locos’ type of thing.”
Manziel admitted that he drank with his friends Monday night, prior to him reporting the concussion to the team Tuesday.
“We come into the offensive line meeting we have every day at like 7 a.m. on Tuesday,” Manziel said. “I don’t know if it’s a combination of me being concussed, having drank the night before or just being out of it, but I walk into the meeting for probably like 15 seconds and I’m like ‘Nope. No way is this going to happen. My head is loopy.'”
“They take me to the hospital that day,” Manziel continued. “I stayed there the entirety of the day. And then it’s like ‘My season’s over, it’s the last game of the season, I’m done.’ And then I was going through some things with my at-home life. That was my biggest problem that year. It wasn’t the football life. It was what was going in at home that was causing me so many problems and one of those problems led me to Vegas and I felt like I couldn’t solidify or fix my home life without going out there.”
The things at home Manziel referred to was the investigation for an October incident involving his then-girlfriend Colleen Crowley that he was never charged for.
With his season over, Manziel decided to go to Vegas on Saturday.
He said that his original plan was to, “stay there for three hours and I’m going to catch the 10:30 [p.m.] flight back so I can make my mandatory treatment session the next day for all of the injured players before the [Steelers] game on Sunday.”
But he got spotted by a reporter who spotted him after he got carded at the casino.
“Do I catch this flight at 10?,” Manziel said he asked himself. “Hakkason (a club at the MGM Grand) is going to be pretty lit tonight. I don’t really want to go home.”
Then came the famed post on Instagram “saying ‘I’m at home with my dog’ and I tag it in Avon, Ohio” while his presence in Las Vegas began to go viral on social media and a local radio station reported it.
“As funny as this is, I’m still embarrassed by it,” Manziel said.
His solution to keep the party going: “Let’s go get a wig. I’m still pretty embarrassed by it. It’s still a reckless decision.”
Manziel explained how he went to a store off the strip to buy the disguise.
“I’m like ‘perfect,'” Manziel said. “I shave all of my hair but my mustache, so I had a little mustache going….It was like a blondish-brown mullet.”
While Manziel was living it up, the Browns were trying to figure out where he was and what was going on.
“I get back to the room or 3 or 4 in the morning,” Manziel, who missed a treatment session, said. “It’s already 7 East Coast time, and we play at 1. I have to be there at 8 which is in an hour. I just turn my phone off and throw it in the drawer and ‘We’ll figure it out when we wake up.'”
When Manziel woke up an “absolute cluster s—-show of messages” awaited him.
The podcast was actually taped over a week ago but it wasn’t released until first thing Wednesday.
“It’s to the point in time where I’m able to look back, reflect, know that it was a mistake, know that I made some really childish, immature decisions,” Manziel said.
“This decision that I made, what a complete lack of respect for guys like Joe T. What a complete lack of respect for an organization that was trying to stick by me even with having a concussion at this point in time. What a complete selfish decision.”