Speaking on a recent episode of the YNK Podcast, Johnny Manziel expressed regret for the dysfunction he brought to the Cleveland Browns franchise during his tumultuous two seasons in Ohio. Manziel, who turns 28 on December 6, hit on a variety of topics about the life he now leads, which includes golfing around the country with guys who have families and responsibilities in life.
The main topic, however, was the Johnny Football persona and the trail of destruction it left across the Browns franchise.
“Looking back on it now, I would say I absolutely, 100 percent lost their respect. Why wouldn’t you? If I was one of them looking back at what I was doing, and your decisions that you make off the field impact if I put food on mine, yeah I’d feel some type of way, a hundred percent,” Manziel said.
“I would say we wasted a draft pick to go get this guy who doesn’t give a f–k. And that’s my only thing in life that I haven’t been able to look back and like fully have closure on. … It’s probably one of the only things that I haven’t looked back on and been able to be, like, super, super OK with what happened.”
Manziel finished his NFL career 2-6. His final game came December 27, 2015 when he went 13-of-32 for 136 yards and an interception against the Chiefs. He sat out the final game of the year with a concussion. On the eve of the Browns’ final game on January 3, 2016 against the Steelers, a disguised Manziel was spotted in a Vegas casino. It was the end of the road for Manziel in Cleveland and the NFL.
“I don’t appreciate going to Cleveland for two years and impacting and wasting two years of Joe Thomas’ career, who’s a guy that’s going to be a 12-time Pro Bowler and going to be in the Hall of Fame. And I regret not going and being closer with these guys and being distant into the other life that I was living. And it’s nuts, and to sit back and look at it now, it’s a shameful thing and something that I have to look back, and at the end of the day, I can only say ‘Yo’ to those guys.
“And I feel like I’ve told them over the past couple of years. I’ve got to the point where I’ve hit, like, clarity, and I went and did Joe’s podcast. I still talk to Joe Haden, some of these guys that were, like, foundation members of the Browns during this time. ‘Cause I think we had the talent to do it, but we had a young—a bad mix of people and a point to where I got to where I didn’t give it everything I had to everybody else. I didn’t have the grind in my mind like I did to be great in college like I did in Cleveland, and I feel disrespectful to the guys who were there, being legends because they worked their f–king ass off.”
During a 2017 interview with Graham Bensinger, Thomas didn’t voice any regret for what Manziel meant to his career, a career that includes playing ten consecutive years without missing a start.
“I love Johnny. He’s a great person. He’s friendly. He’s a lot of fun,” Thomas told Bensinger. “And I think that’s probably a big part of his struggles in the NFL is he has so many friends, he has so many people that want to be with him and want to hang out with him and that detracts from his focus on being a quarterback.