Johnny Manziel went from rock star to rock bottom, and now the former Cleveland Browns quarterback is trying to rebuild his football career with the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football.
Manziel signed with the Express this week and could appear against the Birmingham Iron on Sunday.
In an interview ahead of the game, the 26-year-old acknowledged that he has “a lot of regrets” from his time in Cleveland. Drafted in the first-round after a record-breaking career at Texas A&M, Manziel played in 14 games over two seasons with the Browns before the team released him in 2016.
Manziel’s time in the NFL was overshadowed by off-the-field issues and ended as the quarterback was being investigated for a domestic incident with his then-girlfriend. He described getting caught up in his “rock star status” as his mistakes compounded and eventually exploded.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Manziel said. “I wake up at times thinking I’m going to pop up and be in my apartment my first year in Cleveland and it’s all going to be one crazy dream.”
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) March 23, 2019
He noted that there were a lot of people who tried to help pull him out of trouble with the Browns but he was too stubborn.
“I have a lot of regrets about my time there for sure,” Manziel said. “What’s done is done. I’ve made a multitude of mistakes. I’ve tried my best — and will continue to try my best — to make amends to people I feel I’ve wronged over the course of my life, and move forward without trying to make some of the same mistakes I’ve made in the past.”
The quarterback spent last season in the Canadien Football League, compiling a 2-6 record as a starter with the Montreal Alouettes. Montreal released Manziel in February for violating his contract and the CFL barred him from signing with another team. The AAF’s San Antonio Commanders had the first opportunity to sign him, per the league’s rights system, but they declined.
Memphis owns the league’s worst record at 1-5. Although Brandon Silvers will start the game against the Iron, co-offensive coordinator Bobby Blizzard said Manziel is “ready right now” if called upon.
The Heisman Trophy-winner acknowledged that his fall from grace has been very public.
“I don’t hide from it. I don’t run from it,” Manziel said. “I’ve been a very bad person at times. I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I’m not proud of whatsoever. But today, I feel like I’ve been alright. Yesterday, I feel like I was better. Today I feel like I was better than yesterday.
“One day at a time. Stack bricks. See if we can’t build a house when it’s all said and done without blowing it over.”