Johnny Manziel's closest friends: 'Going to Cleveland was the worst thing ever'

The story of Johnny Manziel's Cleveland tenure had a sad ending that left fans muddled with frustration.

But Manziel's battles stretched well beyond the pocket.

Drugs. Partying. Drinking. Assault allegations from a former girlfriend.

Football fans knew Manziel had a party boy reputation in college, back before he ever put on a Cleveland Browns uniform. But Manziel's closest friends, in an interview with Vanity Fair, say coming to Cleveland was "the worst thing ever" for Manziel.

The article notes the concerns Manziel's parents had for their son well before he became a big-name quarterback. His parents became concerned about Johnny's drug use when his mother found drug paraphernalia in his college apartment.

Manziel's longtime best friend, Steve Brant, told Vanity Fair that Manziel had one close friend, named Nate Fitch, who wasn't a drug user.

Fitch tried to keep Manziel straight, away from partying. 

“Nate had so many confrontations with him,” a friend told Vanity Fair. “He saw Johnny just wasn’t focused on the future the way he should be. He was focused on, you know, these other things. Nate kept saying, ‘This is not the way an NFL quarterback can be.’”

The Browns drafted Manziel with the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL draft. Brant told Vanity Fair that going to Cleveland was a terrible move for Manziel, because he never felt like he had a fair shot at the Browns' starting quarterback position.

"He never felt he had any chance to succeed there," Brant told Vanity Fair. "I mean, from day one. They didn’t get him any help, no receivers, nothing.”

Another of Manziel's friends said Johnny's lack of preparation was a big factor, evident in a 30-0 loss to Cincinnati.

“It was pretty apparent that the lack of preparation, the lack of commitment, derailed him,” the friend told Vanity Fair. “In private, [Manziel] said, ‘The team quit on me.’”

The partying continued and Manziel reached a level beyond help. He checked himself into rehab in the offseason. He was hit with assault allegations by ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley. He was cut by the Browns in March.

But Brant insists that drugs are not the problem.

“Johnny doesn’t have a drug problem. He has a ‘having fun’ problem, Brant told Vanity Fair. “I think I know him better than anyone. He’ll be fine. Believe me.” 

Read the full article here.


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