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Johnny Manziel says he has bipolar disorder, opens up about alcohol use and mental health issues amid comeback attempt

The New York Daily News - 2/13/2018

Feb. 13--Johnny Manziel says his mental health is now a top priority in going from a Heisman Trophy-winning NFL bust to a hopeful comeback story.

In an interview that aired Monday on "Good Morning America," the troubled quarterback acknowledged that any successful return to the gridiron following his brief Cleveland Browns career must start with improving himself off the field.

"I had a sense of entitlement about what I had accomplished at the age I accomplished it and I got so ingrained in only caring about what Johnny wanted," Manziel said. "When I look back at it now, even when I thought I was doing what I wanted, I was miserable."

Manziel, 25, became the first freshman to win the Heisman when playing at Texas A&M in 2012. He was drafted by the Browns with the No. 22 overall pick in 2014, but was cut after two NFL seasons due to poor play and frequent partying and drinking.

Manziel entered rehab shortly before the Browns released him in 2015, but he continued using alcohol as a free agent in his years-long battle with depression.

"Going back throughout the last couple years of my life I was self-medicating with alcohol, because it's what I thought was making me happy and helping me get out of that depression to the point of where I felt I had some sense of happiness," he said. "But at the end of the day, staring at the ceiling by yourself, and you're back in that depression, you're back in that hole, that dark hole of sitting in a room by yourself super depressed, thinking about all the mistakes of your life. Where did that get me? Where did that get me except out of the NFL? Where did that get me? Disgraced?"

Manziel was later charged with domestic violence against an ex-girlfriend in January 2016. The charge was eventually dropped on the condition that he attend an anger management course, but the QB said he has also been trying to make amends with those closest to him.

He said his mother "just broke down" when she confronted him, saying, "You don't understand when people come up to us and say, 'What the hell is your son doing?'

"I saw the trickle down effects of what I was doing in my life, that were meaningless and pointless and selfish," he said.

Manziel added that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year and has been taking medication.

"I'm working to try and make sure that I don't fall back into any type of depression because I know where that leads me and I know how slippery of a slope that is for me," he said.

Manziel said his loved ones, including his fiancee, model Bre Tiesi, and his father, who once said his son wouldn't live to see his 24th birthday, "would all agree that they see a drastic change" in his behavior.

"Now the question you asked is, 'Is that sustainable?' and 'Would that be the case moving forward?'" he said. "I would like to sit here and say, yes, and I have a lot of confidence that would be the case."

Manziel was offered a two-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League last month, but he yet to agree to a contract. If he does, it would take him one step closer to his ultimate goal: a return to the NFL. "I am coming back from a huge downfall," he said. "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."


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