Ryan Leaf Sees Own Struggles In Johnny Manziel: ‘It’s Like A Mirror’

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Johnny Manziel clearly needs help, and if there’s anyone who can relate to the Cleveland Browns quarterback’s struggles, it’s Ryan Leaf.

The former second overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft behind Peyton Manning, Leaf had his career with the San Diego Chargers derailed by poor play and even poorer judgment that led to frequent confrontations with teammates and fans. He also dealt with substance abuse and had frequent run-ins with the law after his playing days that included two stints in prison.

In a radio interview Thursday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, Leaf was very open about the comparisons between him and Manziel, whose latest transgression came this weekend in an ugly incident involving his ex-girlfriend that has the people close to him fearing for his safety.

“It’s like a mirror, it really is,” Leaf told co-hosts Tim Colishaw and Matt Mosley. “I listen to and hear stuff that’s being said and what’s going on and it’s like a mirror for me. I can relate to so many things.”

More importantly, Leaf, who was released from prison in December 2014, urged Manziel to seek help for his issues.

“There’s a solution,” Leaf said. “There always is but it’s so hard to see when you’re on this pedestal and (think) you don’t need help. You don’t need to be vulnerable because you’re a big, strong football player and help means (being) weak. It doesn’t. Asking for help might be the strongest thing you ever do. So it’s hard because it was so fun to watch him. Great college quarterback. He’s very capable and people want to cheer for him.”

Manziel’s agent dropped the 23-year-old Friday, and it’s likely the Browns will cut him, too. Leaf can relate to that as well but wishes the best for the young QB.

“I’m worried that he’s not going to be able to catch on somewhere else and be as successful as he’s capable of being,” Leaf said. “I hope he can.”

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Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images

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