Johnny Manziel still is far away from an NFL comeback. But at least he’s coming clean about the decisions that got him booted from the league.
The former Cleveland Browns quarterback joined Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins on their “ThomaHawk” podcast for Uninterrupted on Wednesday and regaled his ex-teammates with a story about his one of his most infamous incidents.
Manziel described in detail the weekend of Jan. 2, 2016, when he reportedly ditched the team to fly to Las Vegas the day before Cleveland’s season finale. The 25-year-old claimed a combination of off-field issues “led me to Vegas.”
“So I had this reckless, reckless plan,” Manziel said, as transcribed by For The Win. “On a Saturday after the walk-through, I’m going to catch a 12 o’clock (commercial flight). So I fly out there, I get there at 2 or 3 or whatever time it is and I’m going to stay there for three hours and I’m going to catch the 10:30 flight back so I can make my mandatory treatment session the next day.”
Manziel then booked a room at Planet Hollywood — at which point things started to go off the rails.
“I’m like, ‘You know what, that craps table is calling my name, that blackjack table’s calling my name,’ ” he said. “Because the Horseshoe in Cleveland’s corrupted me. So I sit down and the guy IDs me. I hand him my ID and he takes a look at the TV right behind me and there’s an announcement, my name’s on the bottom of the ticker, it’s a Browns something and he’s like, ‘That’s you.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah.’ ”
A USA Today reporter also spotted Manziel, which prompted the QB to famously go out and buy a disguise instead of flying home.
“I put it on in two seconds, I shaved all my facial hair but my mustache … it was a blondish, brown mullet,” Manziel said.
Manziel posted a geo-tagged Instagram photo of him with his dog to make it look like he was back in Cleveland. Meanwhile, he and a few friends hit the town, blowing off his flight to attend a Chainsmokers concert.
“I get back to the room that night probably 3 or 4 in the morning, and it’s already 7 a.m. East Coast time,” Manziel said. “We play at 11. This stuff is already starting to come out. I have to be there at 8, which is in an hour. I’m like, ‘I’m definitely not going to make that.’ ”
He didn’t, of course.
“I ended up waking up, just leaving my phone off,” Manziel added. “I turned it on sometime around 3 or 4 to absolute cluster (expletive) of messages because somebody, the promoter or whoever saw me, just went and sold it to someone in Vegas, a credible news source in Vegas — this is what they happened, this is what they ate for dinner, this is what he was drinking, this is how many drinks he had.”
Manziel eventually returned to Cleveland, where he met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and then-general manager Sashi Brown. The meeting didn’t go too poorly, according to Manziel, but once the team hired Hue Jackson as head coach that offseason, the QB knew the writing was on the wall.
“The first thing I heard through my agent was, ‘If Hue Jackson gets this job … the first thing he’s doing is coming and getting rid of you,’ ” Manziel said.
That’s exactly what happened, as Cleveland released Manziel on March 11, 2016. On the bright side, he got a good story out of it.