ABC exclusive interview: Johnny Manziel opens up about off field struggles, hopes to return to football

ABC exclusive interview: Johnny Manziel opens up about off field struggles, hopes to return to football
Johnny Manziel. (Source: ABC)

COLLEGE STATION, TX  (ABC) - Johnny Manziel, the former NFL quarterback, and Heisman Trophy winner is now opening up about his struggles off the field.

"You don't understand when people come up to us and say what the hell is your son doing? I didn't really feel that until my mom said that, she just broke down, she was crying and I saw the trickle-down effects of what I was doing in my life that were meaningless and pointless and selfish."

Johnny Manziel's life, from field to courtroom has been on full display since November 10, 2012.

That's the day the legend of Johnny Football was born.

An exciting, wildly talented, yet undersized quarterback at Texas A&M who went on to become the first freshman to ever win the Heisman trophy.

Manziel was first round draft pick on the Cleveland Browns, but his off the field issued eventually led to the team cutting him in 2016, and Johnny Football hasn't played football since.

"I am watching all the other guys doing what I want to be doing and I am sitting on a couch being a loser."

Manziel admits there's no one to blame but him: Run-ins with the law including a domestic assault charge that was dismissed in November after he agreed to attend an anger management course; and his well-documented partying and drinking.

"I had a sense of entitlement about what I had accomplished at the age I had accomplished it and I felt for a while I got so ingrained caring only about what Johnny wanted, even when I thought I was doing what I wanted, I was miserable."

Manziel eventually entered rehab in 2015. He says he's had time to reflect, mature, and clean up. He got engaged to his girlfriend Bree Tiesi. He's been working out, trying to convince a pro team to take a chance on him and he's launched his own line of apparel.

"Here is the way I look at it, going back throughout the last couple of years of my life, I was self-medicating with alcohol, that's what I thought would make me happy and get out of that depression to a point where I felt like I had some sense of happiness, at the end of the day - You are left staring at the ceiling by yourself and in that depression and back in that dark hole of sitting in a room by yourself, super depressed, thinking about all the mistakes you made in your life, what did that get me? Where did that get me except out of the NFL? Where did that get me? Disgraced."

"I went a solid five months where I fell into a little bit of a depression, where I didn't drink, I didn't do anything, but still I was going to therapy, and the difference that I know this year I started taking a look at my mental health a little bit and made it a priority in my life to where I am taking medication for bipolar and I am working to try to make sure I don't fall back into any type of depression because I know where that leads me and I know how slippery a slope that is for me."

T.J Homles asks Johnny when he was diagnosed with Bipolar:

"About a year ago, sometime around June or Jul, I went to a facility in California. At the end of the day, I can't help that my wires are a little bit differently crossed than yours, I can't help my mental makeup of the way that I was created. But I know if I stay on these meds and I continue to do what I am doing right now. I think my dad, my mom, I think Bree, would all agree that they see, a drastic change, now the question you asked is, is that sustainable, and would that be the case moving forward. I would like to sit here and say yes and I have a lot of confidence that would be the case, but at the end of the day its to be seen, I am still moving forward I am still - the little meticulous things I have to do on a daily basis to try to keep this right (pointing to his head) or anything else is what means the most to me so // the main thing to me is not physical health its mental."

Part of that process is keeping friends and family around, and Manziel can always come home to Texas A&M where people still line up for hours just to meet him.

"I am coming back from a huge downfall to try to make...I don't know what kind of comeback it will be, but I know I want to get back on a football field to what brought me so much joy in my life and it makes me happy doing as my job."

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