BEREA, Ohio—Johnny Manziel broke his silence after not speaking with the local media since Dec. 29, 2014 after the season finale with the Ravens.
Since then, Manziel checked himself into a rehab center in Caron, Pa. for over two months for an undisclosed treatment.
Manziel called last season a “disaster” and also admitted he was a distraction to the team.
After thanking everyone Manziel said he’s “just moving forward”.
“Moving forward, my focus is on football,” Manziel said. “This is what I love to do and that’s what I want to talk about.
“My private life and what goes on has been documented enough,” he said. “I’m eager to talk about the 2015 Cleveland Browns and what we have this year and what we want to do this season. That’s really my focus and everything else I’m really trying to close that chapter in my life and move forward and continue to build on what I’ve done this off-season.”
Manziel played seven quarters in 2014 before injuring his hamstring and finished the season on injured reserve. Manziel was 18-of–35 for 175 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His rating was 42.0. His only touchdown came on a scramble for a score in mop up time against the Bills. He said his rookie season was disastrous.
“I felt it a little more after the season, obviously, last year in my mind, for me personally, last season was a disaster because I didn’t come out and perform and that is what it comes down to regardless of everything else, what matters is on the field is what really matters,” Manziel said. “I think there is a fine line with some people who have a lot of hope in me and a lot of faith in me and are truly fans and a lot of people that think because I think it’s even my own fault because of the way I built myself up and set myself up for failure if I didn’t come out and have success as a rookie and perform.”
Manziel admitted the “Johnny Football” persona hurt him.
“I think it overtook me as a person and I bought into it,” he said. “I didn’t do enough to hush it down and that’s on me. Moving forward, I’m just trying to put that down and suffocate that.”
Manziel spoke after last season about trying to change and said he meant it at the time.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said. “As much as I might have intended to change, I wasn’t in a position personally to do the right things and feel I’m taking the right steps to put myself in the best position possible to put myself in the best possible position to be the quarterback this organization drafted me to be.
“I don’t want to give up on that fact that they brought me in here as a first-round pick and they want to see something from me. It’s not lost on me and hopefully, other people in this locker room.”
Manziel also said he doesn’t want to be a distraction to the team.
“I feel like I was a bit of a distraction (last season),” he said. “I feel bad about that looking back on how much my life (off the field) was documented and it’s not fair for Joe Haden to be answering questions about me every day or Joe Thomas or all these guys that have questions asked about me and I don’t want that on them and that’s part of the reason I am (speaking today).”
Manziel said he just wants to be another player on the team—whether he can be or not remains to be seen.
“Whatever I can do to help quiet the noise around this team and myself, I don’t want that anymore,” he said. “I just want to be another player on this team that is trying to get better and be successful.”
Manziel did say he has made some noticeable changes, including his trademark money sign.
“The money sign will not be back,” Manziel said. “Last year wasn’t very good and I’m just trying to close that chapter of my life.”
Manziel was asked if he thinks it will hard to close that chapter of his life.
“Last year is last year and it was what it was and I’m just trying to close that chapter on my life,” he said. “That’s one I’m not very proud of and don’t want to look back on.
“That chapter in my life is behind me, at least,” he said. “I’m moving forward and looking forward to this season.”
On the field, Manziel has been inconsistent. On Tuesday, he dropped three snaps out of the shotgun. On Wednesday, he hit Andrew Hawkins deep for a touchdown.
“I’m doing some good things and I’m doing some bad things,” he said. “Right now, it’s early. We’re at a stage where we have a new coaching staff coming in and we’re eager to get familiar with these plays and get comfortable and come out of this (minicamp) with a good base under us so we can move it into training camp. For me, I’m just trying to continue to progress.”
From his time away, Manziel admitted he realized how much he missed football.
“This is a game I do truly love I know from the second I got back (from rehab) and the way they treated me the day I got back, I really can’t put into words how special that was for me coming back in and being accepted,” Manziel said. “I just think I need to continue to do the right things and continue to do my best out here putting in my best effort.
“I’m still learning,” he said. “It was a big jump for me coming from what I did in college until now. There’s no denying that. I just want to continue to develop, that’s what I want to do.”
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