Johnny Manziel hasn't played in an NFL game since 2015, and since exiting the league he's been in and out of rehabilitation for addiction, cut ties with multiple agents, been publicly denounced by his own father and had a domestic assault case dismissed.
On Thursday's episode of Undisputed, Hall of Famer Cris Carter - who overcame addiction during his NFL career - explained why despite all of Manziel's issues he wants to see him succeed in the NFL.
Cris Carter: Johnny Manziel is good enough to be a backup
“Yes, NFL teams should be interested in Johnny Manziel, for a number of reasons.
The No. 1 reason is that there’s 64 backups in the NFL. You’ve got 32 starters, most team have at least two backups. Are there 64 better quarterbacks than Johnny Manziel in the world? No. And that’s just a pure breakdown of the numbers.
But this is a fact also. Johnny Manziel is in a population of people in the United States - over 24 million people are addicted to either alcohol or drugs. And only 10 percent of us get treatment on a regular basis. Now Johnny’s been yelling for help for three years. He finally got some help.”
Jerome MironJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: Manziel isn't the only NFL player dealing with addiction problems
"Now this is not something that goes away. For those of us who do have, genetically, the addiction of alcohol or drugs, you take it with you to the grave. So this is not the end of the story. Yes, I’m pulling for Johnny and a bunch of others, because what I don’t see - andnot to give credit to myself - I don’t see a bunch of Cris Carter stories in the NFL anymore. I don’t see guys who recover. I don’t see guys who dig themselves a ditch and and are able to get the help that the teams and the NFL want, and are able to come out of this and go on to have a great life.
Because the truth of the matter is, for those of us who are addicted, we go on to do great things in our life. This is not the end of the road for all, this is not a death sentence, even though we are taking it to the grave with us.
So I think if you look at the population, 53 guys on the NFL roster, practice squad. You’ve got 60 some guys. You’ve got six guys on that team, just based on the national average, [dealing with addiction]… One out of every 10 guys, they need help. So you’re going to have those same type of demographics in your locker room. So I’m just not going to give anyone a chance that has shortcomings with drugs or alcohol?
Skip, you know this, I’ve been pulling for Josh Gordon for years, and the reason why is I want to hear a winning story. I want to hear how someone let their life go through addiction, and rose above it to go on to do great things with their life. So I’m cheering for Johnny Manziel.”
John RiegerJohn Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Deserving players don't always get second chances
“For me, the NFL is not a church. It is about hiring people that they think can do a job. And at the end of the day, if they believe Johnny Manziel can do the job, they’re going to give him an opportunity.
The problem that I have with this is that I saw a guy like Vince Young, who was very productive… he didn’t have alcohol, he didn’t have drug problems. And how he’s trying to make a comeback, but he was ostracized. It got out that he was thinking about taking his life, and he could never escape that, he could never outrun that.
We see a guy like Colin Kaepernick - all he did was exercise his first amendment right, and he’s been alienated. Now I don’t know if six team are going to have interest in Colin Kaepernick. He doesn’t really need six teams, he just needs one, whether or not he’s a backup.
But I look at Johnny Manziel… C.C., I love second chances, I love redemption. As deep as you were, at the end of the day Cris Carter said ‘you know what? I’m tired of living this life. I’m tired of being that guy, because I know I can be so much more.’ You made that decision, you got the help. I can only help you if you want the help. I can only help you if you’re willing to help yourself.”
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon Sharpe: Johnny Manziel still isn't taking full responsibility for his actions
“And I don’t know if Johnny’s [ready]. It’s being reported that he was in the courtroom saying that ’he doesn’t trust the NFL.’ See? There it is again.
He still won’t acknowledge, instead of saying ‘you know what, judge? I missed this opportunity.’ OK. Don’t blame somebody else, because the easiest thing you’ll ever do is shift the blame on someone else when the blame should be placed on you.”
Scott GalvinScott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: Johnny Manziel needs an opportunity to prove he’s changed
“And that’s where I was for a long period of time in Philadelphia. When Buddy Ryan cut me, I blamed it on Buddy Ryan.
The truth of the matter is Buddy did me a favor. And the reason why he said to the media ‘all he does is score touchdowns,’ so he wouldn’t let out that I had an addiction problem. And until I started accepting that… but it takes some time.
And also, it takes an opportunity. It took a team like Minnesota to tell me that ‘it’s more important for you to meet with a counselor than it is for you to be at practice.’ And that’s the first time I ever had that mandate put on me. ‘You’re going to meet with this lady,’ and I still meet with her to this day, you’re talking about 26 years later, still meet with her on a monthly basis no matter where we’re at in the United States.
So, for me, I have to [support Johnny]. Our past, it brings us to where we are. I have to have empathy for someone like Johnny Manziel.”
Pool PhotoPool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Skip Bayless: It's difficult to trust Johnny
“I’m going to go one cut deeper here and tell you why this Manziel story is tearing me up, and why I have so much respect for the daily battle that [Cris Carter] fights, and why I appreciate so much what you just said about Johnny.
I’ve been close with Johnny. I’ve told Shannon, he’s making it harder for me to stay with him on this, because even though his friends tell me that two weeks ago he celebrated his 50th day of sobriety, I don’t *know.*
You ask me, ‘are you sure? Are you taking that to the bank?’ I never know with Johnny, because he can tell you one thing and do another quickly, and he can be very convincing ofit.
I am rooting for him, and I admit, I pray for him. And the reason I can relate - I don’t want sympathy for this, I just want to qualify myself - I grew up in a broken home with double alcoholic parents. And my father drank himself to death when I was in college, cirrhosis of the liver, he just didn’t want to go on. And my mother survived a near-fatal drunk driving car wreck and finally went and got help. To this day, she will not miss a meeting, because you can’t miss a meeting.
The point is, I see what Johnny went through. I said before his draft [that] if he shows he’s got alcohol or drug issues, I’m out, because it looked like he was going down that path at Texas A&M."
Eric SealsEric Seals-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: Manziel is a risk, but at least he's trying
"He was *high* risk, I’m not going to say high reward, but there was some reward there because he’s got some ability, and I thought it could translate. But now I’m not so sure. And when he winds up on the yacht in Miami, even though he went down for a Nike event the following day,and it looks like he’s got a colored drink in his hand… I don’t know what to think.
I’m rooting for him, and they’re going to try to pull off another pro day for him in early April. And I assume that a bunch of teams are going to show up and check him out. He says he’s bounced back to 205 pounds, he looked like he was wasting away at 185. So again, I’m pulling for him, I don’t know what to think about his future. But I appreciate what you said. You can’t just discard him and throw him out."
John RiegerJohn Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: Johnny Manziel’s comeback is bigger than football
“This is the thing that’s bigger, it’s bigger than the National Football League. I’m fortunate to be involved with a company, Ambrosia, that operates treatment centers around the country. Five of them, they have one here in Beverly Hills. I do a meeting there every other week, and I see so many Johnny Manziels every other week.
So, for me, it’s not about playing ball. These kids need an example, and Johnny Manziel, they can relate more to him than they can to me. So Johnny Manziel has a great opportunity, not only to salvage his career, but what he can do through his hard work…”