Johnny Manziel explains how his infamous Vegas trip paved 'self-sabotage road'

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Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel explained how his NFL career really went off the rails. (AP)
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel explained how his NFL career really went off the rails. (AP)

Remember the time when Johnny Manziel, supposedly in concussion protocol, was spotted wearing a disguise and partying in Las Vegas on the eve of the Cleveland Browns’ final game of the 2015 season?

Well, Johnny Football, fresh off of revealing his bipolar diagnosis and announcing an NFL comeback attempt, finally explained why he set his career on fire for a few hours of fun in Sin City. Sort of.

In a podcast conversation with former Browns teammates Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins, transcribed by For The Win, Manziel said the trip to Vegas was an attempt to “fix my home life.”

“It was what was going on at home that was causing me so many problems, and one of those problems led me to Vegas,” he said. “I felt like I couldn’t solidify or fix my home life without going out there. So I had this reckless, reckless plan. On a Saturday after the walkthrough, I’m going to catch a 12 o’clock [flight]. So I fly out there, I get there at 2 or 3 or whatever time it is and I’m going to stay there for three hours and I’m going to catch the 10:30 flight back so I can make my mandatory treatment session the next day.”

Upon arriving, he checked into Planet Hollywood, “[talked] out my family business, like whatever,” and figured, “You know what, that craps table is calling my name, that blackjack table’s calling my name.”

After a blackjack dealer and a USA Today reporter recognized him, Manziel added a few foolproof steps to his plan, buying a blond wig and shades, telling everyone his name was “Billy” and posting an old photo to Instagram, with the hashtag #SaturdayNights and the location set to Avon, Ohio:


A post shared by Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) on Jan 2, 2016 at 6:05pm PST

From there, Manziel went out to dinner, then to a club and, “We stay out all night.” He didn’t get back to his hotel room until roughly “7 a.m. East Coast time. We play at 11. This stuff is already starting to come out, I have to be there at 8, which is in an hour. I’m like, ‘I’m definitely not going to make that.'”

Instead, he turned off his phone until mid-afternoon the next day, when his inbox was filled with an “absolute cluster [expletive] of messages.” For the uninitiated, Manziel hasn’t played in the NFL since.

Manziel said he explained his reasons for going to Vegas to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and then-general manager Sashi Brown, and he believes they were prepared to stick with him. That is, until, as his agent told him, Hue Jackson was hired as coach on the condition that the Browns sack Manziel.

That’s when he says he went “into self-sabotage road from there.” If not on an earlier flight to Vegas.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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