Fresh out of his recent stint in rehab, Johnny Manziel released the following statement through the Cleveland Browns today:
"I would like to thank my family, friends, the Browns organization, my teammates, and Browns fans everywhere, for your patience, understanding, and support during my stay at Caron. The doctors and staff have been amazing and what I’ve learned in the last couple of months has been tremendous. I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down. I take full responsibility for my actions and it’s my intention to work very hard to regain everyone’s trust and respect. I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say. I also understand there’s a lot of curiosity about this but anyone who has a friend or family-member that’s been through things like this knows it’s an ongoing process. I’m going to continue to ask folks to try to respect my privacy as I determine to what degree I am comfortable talking about a subject which I consider very personal. Most of you have been considerate about that and I thank you for it. I look forward to seeing my teammates next week and focusing on football and my desire to be the best possible player, teammate, and man that I can be.”
Manziel voluntarily entered the Caron Pennsylvania alcohol and drug treatment center in late January following his controversial rookie season in Cleveland where rumors of his extravagant off the field antics overshadowed his lackluster gridiron performances all season long.
The former Texas A&M quarterback never seemed to gain any sort of footing in his first year as a pro after failing to beat out the incumbent Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback position. When he did finally get a chance to start, Manziel posted a 0-2 record with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Manziel’s poor play under center coupled with the media firestorm he generated seemingly every week by providing TMZ and rest of the internet with a steady compilation of party images combined to form a poor first impression within the ownership of the Browns.
What has followed Johnny’s professional debut, however, appears to have been handled responsibly by all parties involved. Cleveland was right to express its concern with its volatile young quarterback. Manziel did the right thing by voluntarily checking into rehab, and he did the right thing by releasing the statement today.
It’s easy to be skeptical about Manziel’s statement and his rehab process in general. Most are desensitized to celebrity rehab stories and generic athlete talk that their first reaction is to take it all with a grain of salt. Manziel was right to acknowledge that trust has been broken and he did the big thing by accepting full responsibility for his actions. Still, the damage has been done and accepting the consequences in life doesn’t end at the point of saying sorry.
Manziel has dug himself into a deep hole, and now he is finally ready to start climbing out. His climb will be well publicized and highly scrutinized in the public conscious. People have the right to root for or against him during this attempt at ascension. It’s logical to believe that this is all just a hollow sham. But, before forming an opinion on the former Heisman trophy winner, remember that he’s still essentially a kid.
People make mistakes. Maybe most have not been near the extreme extent that Johnny’s have been, but most all have things that they’d rather people not know about. The difference between the Johnny Manziels of the world and the rest is that the majority of people’s mistakes take place outside of the public’s eye. The vast majority don’t have the money and fame that comes with being a media sensation, but they don’t have to live our lives under a microscope either. It’s difficult to pretend to know his motivations or intentions without knowing him. But, checking into rehab at the age of 22 is not an easy thing for anybody to do, especially when the rest of the world is going to hear all about it.
Johnny didn’t have to go to rehab. He could have left early, but didn’t. He stayed for almost three months. He didn’t have to own up to his actions. He didn’t have to publicly apologize to his teammates and fans, but he chose to do just that.
Whether or not any of these actions were genuine remains to be seen. The burden of proof lies with Johnny Manziel. He will mostly have to rely on himself to climb out of this hole, and he’ll have to show all in the coming months that he’s a changed man. But for now, he has taken all the right steps and said all the right things. That counts for something.