For most of the past several years, you would have had to be hanging out with some hardcore Aggies to hear Johnny Manziel’s name dropped in casual conversation. Over the past six months, though, the first freshman Heisman winner has been having a bit of a resurgence. Not on the football field—that part of his life is over—but as a media presence, Johnny F—ing Football is back. Last August, the Netflix documentary Untold: Johnny Football chronicled his rise, fall, further fall, and still further descent. The timing, though, was good. His College Station sports bar, Johnny Manziel’s Money Bar, was about to open, and the publicity didn’t hurt his attempt to get his financial situation sorted out after burning through some NFL cash. 

On Wednesday, Manziel’s media comeback tour hit another stop: Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” video series and podcast, where the Hall of Fame NFL tight end interviews celebrities for an audience of nearly three million subscribers on YouTube. Manziel was characteristically candid in the conversation, and even occasionally humble—he gushed about the talent of fellow quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Cam Newton, and even attempted to share credit with his teammates for putting Texas A&M at the center of national college football discourse (when Sharpe pushed, though, Manziel ultimately accepted the “House That Johnny Built” mantle). He was also happy, in the 140-minute conversation, to discuss everyone and everything that deserves some blame for the various missteps in his life and career. Spoiler: It’s an extensive list! Here is a full rundown of all things responsible for the ongoing fall of Johnny Manziel. 

Kevin Sumlin

Manziel is fairly unsparing when talking about his former head coach. “My relationship with Kevin Sumlin was great,” Manziel proclaims, before suggesting the exact opposite. “How do you have a guy who’s a grown man telling me what I should do . . . to live a certain way and put all this partying behind you, but if you know anything about Kevin Sumlin, it’s what he’s doing behind the scenes.” Manziel declares Sumlin “hypocritical” before praising him once more and touting the strength of their relationship. “I’m calling a spade a spade,” he says, and when Sharpe asks if he’s surprised that Sumlin hasn’t gotten another head coaching job, Manziel says, “No,” explaining that “what made Coach Sumlin so great is no longer really with him right now.” Imagine what Manziel says about folks he doesn’t have a “great relationship” with! 

Paul Manziel

In addition to the head coach as father figure, Manziel also passes the buck to his actual father, blaming him for—among other things—moving the family from Tyler to Kerrville. “January of my sixth grade year, my dad comes in, he’s like, ‘We’re moving,’ ” Manziel explains. They drove five and a half hours away to Kerrville, he says, a “beautiful” place that’s also “very country” and “backwoods.” This experience, he says, shifted his life—“a completely new person” was born after that. He was nervous after the move, starting over and making new friends, which led him to create a “different persona,” with the attitude that became Johnny F—ing Football. Why the move? Manziel says that his father never explained it, though as an adult, he understands it was because his dad got a new job that paid him more and would have him work fewer hours, giving him “more time to be a father.” What a monster! 

TV shows Entourage and Blue Mountain State

When Manziel got to College Station, he—as you may have heard—had himself a pretty good time. But it wasn’t the only school he considered, and when talking with Sharpe, he gushes about a visit he made to Texas Christian University, a notorious party school. He was, he says, smitten with the girls and the campus, and Sharpe points out that he mentioned those aspects of the college experience before he even brought up football. “At that point, I wasn’t thinking about football!” Manziel cries. “I’m trying to go have a good time in college. I wanted to be this mix of Entourage on HBO and Blue Mountain State and all these things I was watching at the time. I was ingrained in, ‘I’m a party boy.’ I just happened to be good at football at the time.” Imagine the choirboy Manziel might have been without the influence of Adrian Grenier (who now lives just seventy miles away from College Station in Bastrop). 

The A&M coaches who gave him special treatment

After Manziel won the Heisman as a freshman, he was not exactly an inspiration to his teammates. By his own accounting, he was selfish and unfocused. Thinking back on it, he tells Sharpe: “What I was doing in the offseason and what I was doing in my workouts, and who I was as a team leader coming back with the Heisman Trophy, they should have benched me. They should have suspended me.” He defied his coaches when they told him not to smoke weed, he acknowledges, a pampering that only made him a worse teammate and leader. 

Kliff Kingsbury

Manziel clearly adored his offensive coordinator at A&M, Kliff Kingsbury, and when Kingsbury left the university to become the head coach at Texas Tech in 2012, Manziel was lost. Kingsbury, he says, was the one person who could keep him on track when he was losing control. “I needed Kliff,” he says, “for that situation to go in a perfect way.” When Sharpe asks if he needed Kingsbury as his offensive coordinator to succeed, Manziel explains that it was deeper than that. “I needed Kliff to be that role model in my life,” he says. The disappointment over Kingsbury’s departure renders Manziel inarticulate. “When he left,” he says, trailing off. “F—. It sucked.” 

Mike Pettine

When the Cleveland Browns drafted Manziel in 2014, the decision was made by head coach Mike Pettine. Pettine, though, seemed to develop a fast case of buyer’s remorse. Although Manziel was a first-round pick, he spent training camp as a backup to quarterback Brian Hoyer. “I get thrown into this organization with a head coach that wants nothing to do with me from the day that I get there, with a defensive staff that our first day of offensive install, day one, they’re running six DBs on the field in practice, I can’t even point out a f—ing mike,” he complains, referring to the number of defensive backs that made it impossible for him, as a rookie, to identify the middle linebacker. “Talk about your confidence getting busted quick,” he says. “Now I feel like I can’t do what I was great at in Cleveland.” If he really cared about Johnny, Pettine would clearly have arranged for the other teams to run college schemes against Manziel so he could have kept balling. 

The ghosts of Jack Dempsey and Mickey Mantle

Weird one here! At one point, Manziel talks about how his great-grandfather struck oil, and how that gave his grandfather access to the sports superstars of the day—including the hard-partying heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey and Yankee great Mickey Mantle. “They told me stories about going on hunts with Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, and I’ve seen the pictures, it’s as real as it gets,” Manziel explains—which, by osmosis, made him irresponsible. “What you saw from me and the lifestyle I was living, I think was minorly ingrained in me from what I saw as a kid from what they were doing.” That clears that up! 


Manziel says that he “never did anything with needles,” but he enjoyed cocaine, OxyContin, and Percocet. When he left Cleveland, he says, he weighed 210 pounds. “I was a hundred seventy pounds sitting around in Vegas that August,” he admits—hardly the size of a professional quarterback. Where did that weight go? Straight up his nose, according to Manziel. “How do you lose forty pounds? You’re on a strict diet of blow!” Manziel says. He’d never sign to another NFL team. 

Skip Bayless

Sports talk blowhard Skip Bayless was a firm believer in Manziel. Bayless never really met a mobile, white quarterback he didn’t love—he similarly adored Tim Tebow and Baker Mayfield—and his conviction that Manziel would be a superstar as a pro led to ridiculous statements such as “Johnny Manziel will be bigger than LeBron [James] in Cleveland.” Bayless, Manziel explains toward the end of the interview, just believed in him too hard. “When I sign and I go to Cleveland, and this ‘Johnny Manziel will be bigger than LeBron . . .’ ” he says. “It was never, ever going to be a reality.”

Dowell Loggains’s friend

Famously, as Manziel watched team after team announce other players’ names in the first round of the draft, he sent a text to Cleveland quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains urging the team to draft him, vowing, “Let’s wreck this league.” It was an example of the sort of hubris that epitomized Manziel’s squandered potential—but it wasn’t his fault, he tells Sharpe, it was some buddy of Loggains’s. “This was a very personal conversation between me and him that he told to a friend that then got spun into what it is today,” he explains. 

Brian Hoyer

Some of Manziel’s harshest words in his “Club Shay Shay” appearance are saved for Brian Hoyer, the veteran quarterback who was unwilling to cede his chance at the starting job in Cleveland to the cocky rookie. “My quarterback room was not a home for me because of Brian Hoyer,” Manziel says. “Brian Hoyer had been waiting on an opportunity to be able to go really provide for his family, get an opportunity, and he saw how much of an upper hand he had on me, and he didn’t hold back when it came to that.” Manziel would ask Hoyer to explain concepts several times in the quarterback room, and Hoyer, he said, would be dismissive. “ ‘Again? We’re doing this again?’ ” he recalls Hoyer saying. It sure seemed to hurt Manziel’s feelings. 

Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil

Also deflating for Manziel early in his professional career? An encounter with the Browns’ defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil. Manziel says that during his frustrating second season with Cleveland, O’Neil pulled him into his office. “I’ll never forget, probably about week thirteen or fourteen,” he starts, “I walk by Jimmy O’Neil’s office, and he’s like ‘Hey, Johnny, come in here for a sec.’ ” Manziel explains that he’s “chill” with everybody, but O’Neil surprised him. “He’s sitting back in his desk, got his foot up, and he goes, ‘You know, you’d be a really good football player if you got your head out of your ass.’” Manziel says he was “so caught off guard.” “Now this confidence that I’m building is just immediately . . .” he says, miming throwing something in the trash. The team, at that point, had won two games, and even by his own account Manziel’s play left much to be desired. He didn’t hear tough love in O’Neil’s comment, though, he heard someone being mean to him. 

Johnny Manziel

The one saving grace in what’s otherwise a pretty defensive, embarrassing interview for Manziel is that he also accepts plenty of responsibility of his own. “At nineteen years old, I was only about self,” he says. “That first year, my Heisman year, there was a lot less of that. I had my camaraderie with my team, I was a leader.” But as his star grew, he lost those parts of himself. “I became a bad teammate, I became a bad role model, I became a bad example for what a Texas A&M University football player should be and an ambassador for my school. I still to this day hold a lot of shame for things that I did from nineteen to twenty-seven years old.” It’s nice to hear that Manziel has some self-awareness about his behavior, even if he’s also still invested in spreading that blame around to many others.