CLEVELAND » Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has expressed remorse and asked for privacy following a 10-week stay in rehab.
In his first public comments since he entered a treatment facility on Jan. 28, Manziel apologized to the Browns and their fans and acknowledged he has a long way to go to win back people’s respect.
"I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down," Manziel said in the statement released Friday by the Browns. "I take full responsibility for my actions and it’s my intention to work very hard to regain everyone’s trust and respect. I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say."
Manziel thanked doctors and staff at Caron, a Pennsylvania facility which specializes in the treatment of drugs and alcohol. Manziel was discharged on April 11 and has not publicly disclosed what he sought treatment for.
Manziel was allowed to leave the facility during his stay and he played golf in Louisiana with his father and visited patients in a hospital as part of his program. Since leaving Caron, he has attended a Texas Rangers game followed by a visit to see the Dallas Mavericks play.
Manziel, who earned his "Johnny Football" nickname while winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman at Texas A&M, intends to attend Cleveland’s offseason practices next week. The 23-year-old knows there will be continued interest in his comeback.
"Anyone who has a friend or family member that’s been through things like this knows it’s an ongoing process," Manziel said. "I’m going to continue to ask folks to try to respect my privacy as I determine to what degree I am comfortable talking about a subject which I consider very personal."
Manziel had a rough rookie season in 2014 after he was drafted with the No. 22 overall pick by the Browns. Manziel spent most of it as the team’s backup before making two starts and playing poorly. He was injured in Cleveland’s game at Carolina, then fined after he missed a treatment.
Following the season, Manziel acknowledged he didn’t take his job as seriously as he needed to, and vowed to work harder in the offseason. He checked into rehab less than a month later.
The Browns have remained supportive during his ordeal. Owner Jimmy Haslam and coach Mike Pettine have indicated Manziel will have a chance to win the starting job in training camp, but Manziel is not guaranteed anything. The Browns signed 11-year veteran quarterback Josh McCown as a free agent. The team also has two first-round draft picks and could position itself to take Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.
Browns Pro Bowl tackled Joe Thomas said earlier this week that Manziel needs to prove to his teammates that he is willing to commit to football as the most important thing in his life.
"There was some doubt based on what he did last year if football was the most important thing," Thomas said when the Browns unveiled new uniforms this week. "It matters about showing up, practicing hard, taking the film study seriously, committing yourself to the meetings and playing on Sundays."