In college, he was "Johnny Football," a strutting, hard-celebrating Heisman winner and Alabama slayer at Texas A & M. Johnny Manziel's experience in the NFL, however, almost immediately turned sour, until, after walking the stage during his "money" gesture, he quickly yearned for his old life in College Station, Texas ,
Not that Manziel is looking for compassion, as he told the comedian Kevin Hart in an online interview on Tuesday. The former Browns quarterback, now trying to revive his career in the CFL, instead worked his roller coaster ride from peeling to superstar, from washout to comeback story.
After a first year at Texas A & M he walked around the campus in relative anonymity while exposing the season as Redshirt, Manziel broke out in 2012. He won numerous prestigious first-year awards and grew too quickly into his "Johnny Football" personality.
"After that first year and after the glory came, I could not help but eat it," Manziel Hart said. When asked if he would ever have a moment at school, if he felt he needed to restrain, Manziel replied that his response to his growing reputation was quite the opposite.
"I felt like the guy who had to party, fine," he said.
Two high-profile seasons with the Aggies later, Manziel got a first-round pick from the Browns, who acted to land him and fire their frustrated fanbase. He said his friends had told him he did not want to be in Cleveland, but "I was more optimistic, I was cool with it."
This sunny view would not take long. "When I landed for the first time and went to [Berea, Ohio] [the Browns’ practice facility in] ," he said, "I was like, 'Can I go back to college?'
"I do not know anyone" Manziel continued. "I do not know where I am, it's cold, I do not like it."
The native Texan also did not start liking who he was at the time. A game that had come so easily for him became a great challenge at the highest level. "I did not know what it needed," he admitted. "I did not know how much hard work you really need to do to be good."
Manziel added, "I just had the feeling that when I walked out on that first day … and it went so bad, just that, in turn, contributed to its domestic way of life." This, in turn, added to his spiral into drug abuse for whom he eventually performed several times in rehabilitation clinics.
Manziel, who was fired by the Browns in March 2016, initially seemed content to meet the full-time party circuit and ignore his NFL career. Perhaps for a former hotshot who found Cleveland too cold, Manziel's attempted journey back to the NFL and to some personal redemption has taken him to Canada.
So far, Manziel has not just taken the Canadian Football League by storm. Signed this year by Hamilton, he rode the jaws for the Tiger Cats before they traded him to Montreal last month.
His first start for the Alouettes was little catastrophic when he threw four interceptions in the first half, then it got better the following week, just to get a hard hit and suffer a concussion. Manziel has missed the last two games of the Alouettes, but was back in training on Monday.
Of course, it remains to be seen if he has what it takes to return to the NFL. Nonetheless, Manziel told Hart, "he does not expect people to look at my story and feel bad for me."
"A lot of what I did was self-inflicted," he said. "I am now at a point where I can look back, I can think and realize that I was a way, that was wrong, what can I do if I go forward, because I can not change?"  "I have a dream and the goal of playing again on an NFL stage," said Manziel. "I will not stop until that happens."
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