Fumbled Glory: Johnny Manziel’s Biggest Career-Ruining Mistakes

Darren - August 15, 2023

Fumbled Glory: Johnny Manziel’s Biggest Career-Ruining Mistakes

Darren - August 15, 2023

Many NFL fans think Johnny Manziel is one of the biggest NFL Draft busts ever. The Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M took the college football world by storm in 2013. So the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns made him a first-round pick in 2014 and hoped he would lead them into a new era.  But ‘Johnny Football’ always had a dark side and problems away from the field.

He infamously fell out of the NFL after a couple of seasons. Currently, there’s a Netflix series about his troubles with substance abuse and what went wrong for Manziel. The young man had so much potential but it all went wrong quickly. Check out the craziest stories from Manziel’s life now before watching Untold: Johnny Football.

L.A. Times

Late To Training Camp

It says a lot about Manziel that he was late to his very first Browns training camp. This came in the summer after the franchise made him the 22nd overall pick. In his defense, several rookies received the wrong information and arrived at the wrong time. But it was still a sign of things to come and it all went downhill quickly.

L.A. Times

Brian Hoyer started the Browns’ first practice game that season but Coach Mike Pettine insisted it wasn’t because of Manziel’s tardiness. Meanwhile, thousands of people queued outside because they wanted to see ‘Johnny Football’ practice. It’s crazy how powerful his early impact was when he first arrived (via ABC 11).

Bleacher Report

Zero Tape

Manziel was the bane of former Cleveland GM Ray Farmer’s existence. The quarterback tainted Farmer’s name almost a decade after his disastrous draft decision. Farmer and the Browns’ coaches had no control over the QB and couldn’t make him watch the tape. Manziel’s agent Erik Burkhardt almost died when Farmer revealed this to him.


The Browns could track if Manziel watched tape because of an iPad they gave him. Burkhardt told the Netflix documentary makers that he couldn’t believe it. He said: “Their GM’s calling me, saying, ‘He doesn’t watch the tape. I’m like, ‘Well, he’s gotta watch some tape.’ He’s like, ‘EB, his iPad hours is at 0.00.’”

Total Pro Sports

The Highway Clash

Avon Police Department stopped Manziel on Interstate 90 after an argument escalated. The incident report read that an officer “was dispatched to the area of 90 westbound for the report of a white Nissan traveling at a high rate of speed with a female passenger trying to exit the vehicle and the male driver pulling her back inside.”

Daily Bruin

Allegedly, Manziel’s ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley threw a wallet from the window and had an abrasion on her arm. But she didn’t press charges against him. Meanwhile, Manziel admitted that he had ‘a couple of drinks.’ He spent 10 weeks in rehab after the football season ended (via Sporting News).

USA Today

The Water Bottle Incident

Athletes receive a lot of grief from fans but it’s important to react reasonably. Otherwise, they can find themselves facing a lawsuit because they’ve created a messy situation for themselves. Manziel didn’t receive this memo because he launched a bottle at an annoying 18-year-old. The teenager reportedly verbally harassed the quarterback until he finally provoked a reaction.


Manziel’s friends tried to move him away but Manziel couldn’t help himself. Luckily, he escaped without legal charges but it was an unnecessary drama. He could have walked away but that’s not what Manziel does. The polarizing star makes life difficult for himself and this is a classic example (via SBNation).

AP News

Mega Bust

The young quarterback was allegedly worth about $37 million to Texas A&M. There was talk about him being the number one pick but he dropped down the board. Blake Bortles was the first selected quarterback that year. In the end, Manziel proved that he didn’t deserve to be an NFL starter because of his terrible play.

NBC Sports

Manziel only started two games in his rookie season with zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. Then his sophomore year saw him start six games with five interceptions and seven touchdowns. In short, he was garbage and didn’t offer the Browns anything. That’s why he went down as one of the biggest busts ever (via AP News).

Sporting News

The Las Vegas Bender

Manziel infamously missed the final game of the Browns’ season in 2016. Instead of joining the team, he went to Las Vegas and went crazy in Sin City. The quarterback stayed up until the early hours of the morning of the game. He played blackjack until late and ingested ridiculous amounts of substances.


Somebody spotted him and his picture went viral. So Manziel had the bright idea of disguising himself with a mullet wig. In the end, Manziel turned his phone off and went to bed because he was never going to make it back. That signaled the end of his tenure in Cleveland because new coach Hue Jackson wanted nothing to do with him (via NESN).

Fox News

The Dropout Manager

Manziel didn’t have a regular manager like most top athletes. He decided that he wanted to stick with somebody that he trusted. That’s why the former Aggies’ quarterback invited one of his best friends to take the role. Nate Fitch quit college because he wanted to work with Manziel, a former high school friend.

Men’s Journal

The pair worked together on the autographs scheme that saw them earn thousands of dollars. These days, Fitch conducts business in Dallas and is a real estate investor. (via ESPN). Manziel and Fitch grew apart but the latter advised his friend to seek help when he struggled with substance abuse.


The Homeless Man

Many teams didn’t want to touch Manziel despite his amazing college success. He was the first freshman in NCAA football to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. But there were concerns about his stature and arrogance. Nonetheless, Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam decided that Manziel was the Browns’ future savior.

Sports Illustrated

One wacky report saw Haslam tell Sal Paolantonio that a homeless man convinced him (via CBS Sports). The Browns owner said: “Here in Cleveland, everywhere I go people know me. And I was out to dinner recently and a homeless person was out on the street, looked up at me, and said ‘Draft Manziel.'”

New York Post

Domestic Violence

Colleen Crowley dated Manziel for almost two years but it came to a brutal end. In 2018, she told the New York Post that Manziel abused her and she even feared for her life. She said: “I think there was some mental breakdown because of the way he was acting, it wasn’t anything like drugs or alcohol would affect a person.

Bleacher Report

Crowley said that she locked herself in the bathroom multiple times because he acted in a deranged manner. She described the worst night of her life when she said: “I was lucky to have survived … I fought for my life that night.” This makes Manziel a less sympathetic figure than the Netflix documentary paints him (New York Post).

Bleacher Report

Five Million-Dollar Bender

After Cleveland released Manziel, he spent millions on a prolonged bender. The young man’s life was going down the drain and he needed professional help. But it’s impossible to help someone who doesn’t want it. Manziel’s dad Paul is blunt about his son’s struggles and even suggested incarceration as an option (via Sporting News).


Paul said: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. I don’t know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn’t seeked it yet. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. That’s about all you can say, I don’t know what else to say. I hate to say it but I hope he goes to jail. That would be the best place for him.”

Los Angeles Times

“The Family Emergency”

Manziel used drugs with wild abandon like a child in a candy store. His beleaguered agent worried that his client would fail drug tests but he had a backup plan. Burkhardt contrived a plan with Manziel’s parents that would see them go to the hospital with fake chest pains if Manziel went on a wild bender.

The Spun

He told them to pretend to have a heart attack if necessary. Then he discovered that Manziel used his Aggies’ backup’s urine for drug tests. It went from one extreme to another as the quarterback refused to quit partying. But addiction was controlling his life and he couldn’t do anything about it (via Daily Snark).

New York Times

Teammate Revolt

Manziel lost the respect of many Cleveland veterans because he didn’t learn the plays. Allegedly he worked in the weight room but he didn’t focus on the tactical elements of the sport. This doesn’t fly in the NFL and they even responded better to undrafted rookie Connor Shaw. But his partying and celebrity lifestyle didn’t help matters.

New York Times

One scout said: “The kid never put in the time he needed to – studying film, organizing workouts, 7-on-7 workouts – he didn’t do it. His thing would be he’s going to show up on Saturdays, ‘I’m a gamer.’ He’d show up for practices and games but that’s about it. Johnny thought he was an NFL superstar before he came into the league (via ESPN).”

L.A. Times

Receiver Party

Manziel made trouble for himself but he also created problems for his teammates. He threw a party that receiver Josh Gordon also attended. The pair enjoyed the night too much and missed a team meeting the next day. This didn’t go down well with the front office because they both had a history.


Owner Jimmy Haslam said: “I think a player who can’t show up for meetings, can’t make practice, can’t make weight-lifting, disrespects himself. But I think more importantly, and I think this is what these young guys miss, they disrespect the team, the coaches, the staff, the fans (via”

New York Times

Horrible Debut

Manziel’s highly-anticipated rookie debut was a disaster. The Bengals hammered the Browns 30-0 as Manziel endured a blowout loss. Meanwhile, the quarterback had a garbage display. He posted 80 passing yards with two interceptions as he failed to do anything useful for the team (via Sports Illustrated).

Sporting News

Later, he acknowledged his shocking performance. Manziel said: “I felt coming into today that I was absolutely prepared for today. Being out there, I never felt overwhelmed or that it was too much for me, but when it comes down to it, football is football.” Unfortunately, it didn’t get any better for the young star.


The Inflatable Swan

One of Manziel’s most notorious photos saw him in a Las Vegas club on an inflatable swan drinking from a champagne bottle. It looks like he’s in the happiest place ever and it raised smiles across the nation. No one expected him to go down such a dark path but this was a warning sign (via Fansided).

Sports Illustrated

Many Cleveland fans even replicated the photo as we can see from the example above. Manziel and the Swan became iconic but now it’s one of the most infamous moments from his young life. It’s a sign of the excess and waste that sums up his career. Manziel had so much potential but never used it.

L.A. Times

Fight in Cleveland

Manziel and his entourage had a massive fight at a Cleveland apartment complex in 2014. Chris Gonos, a self-proclaimed Browns fan, approached the star and tried to hug him. However, Manziel’s security didn’t appreciate this and allegedly struck Gonos. Then it became a big fight but Manziel wasn’t at the center.

Sky Sports

To be fair to Manziel, he didn’t do much wrong in this situation. The drunk fan approached him in a dumb way and crossed boundaries. The security guard indeed had an excessive reaction but that wasn’t Manziel’s fault. Nonetheless, it was another story that stained Manziel’s dubious reputation (via Bleacher Report).

Acme Packing Company

The Third-Team Demotion

Manziel experienced several lows during his time in Cleveland. In 2015, video footage emerged of Manziel partying in Texas and this didn’t go down well. This came a week after Mike Pettine made Manziel the team’s starter. But he lied to the coach about when the video took place (via Saturday Down South).


Allegedly, Pettine may have retained Manziel if he was honest. Instead, he installed Josh McCown as the starter because he couldn’t trust his player. There was no need for Manziel to lie but he couldn’t help himself. This type of incident is the story of the former Aggies star’s career.


Dollar Bills

Money makes the world go around but it also went to Manziel’s head. When he agreed to a four million signing-on bonus he raised a stack of cash to his ear like a telephone. Some people didn’t like this because they thought that he was getting too big for his cleats. But nobody could ever accuse him of humility.


Another time, a bank note got Manziel into trouble. A person snapped him in a restroom rolling up a dollar bill. We can only assume what activity he was engaging in because neither Manziel nor the Browns confirmed it. We’ll leave it to the readers’ imaginations because we can’t say (via Radar Online).

Bleacher Report

The Autographs Scandal

Manziel hated the way the NCAA made millions in revenue but he didn’t receive a dime. So he devised a brilliant scheme with Nate Fitch. The pair traveled across the US as Manzie signed autographs for money. Finally, the NCAA figured it out but Fitch took the blame and Manziel walked away with a half-game suspension (via Cinemaholic).

Sporting News

Fitch told Netflix: “First you have to conceal the money so make it white by putting it into your bank account. The next step is how you are going to explain why you are wearing Rolexes, driving new cars, and flying in private jets… the biggest spin that still exists today, I invented a narrative that his family was vastly wealthy from generational oil money.”

Sporting News

The Suicide Attempt

One of the most shocking parts of Manziel’s life saw him attempt to kill himself. He held a gun in his hand and reportedly pulled the trigger. But miraculously, it didn’t go off and the mechanism clicked. Manziel went on a crazy bender and reached the worst low so far. He revealed the shocking incident in the Netflix documentary.

Sporting News

Manziel said: “Still to this day, I don’t know what happened, but the gun just clicked on me. I couldn’t fix what I had done; with Colleen, with the NFL, with A&M, everything. You know, at that point in time, I didn’t have much of a relationship with my family. The ride was over (via Outkick).”