Dear Johnny Manziel,
I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you one bit. They nicknamed you “Johnny Football.” They, of course, being the world of Texas football. I’m not sure when they gave you such a lofty title, but it must have been hell trying to live up to it. They idolized you, pumped your head full of praise, and gilded you and your ego to a Heisman level.
Somewhere along the way you believed they hype, you bought into the promotion of yourself, and you began the charade. Making “money signs” every time you did something good, posing for and with any celebrity who crossed your path, and acting like a hall of fame quarterback before you ever stepped on an NFL practice field. It’s not your fault. Anyone in your position would have believed, bought into, and embodied the manufactured royalty.
I had the same problem you did, Johnny – massive, unjustified, ego inflation. It changed my life for the worse. It sent me towards drugs, alcohol, women, and evil because I thought I was bigger than my consequences.
What I’ve learned over the years is the one thing that I believe can save you. You live a better sermon with your actions than your words. Once I stopped telling everyone how great of a guy I was and started acting like a great guy, I started to become a great guy. I told everyone I was awesome, I told them I was kind and sweet, yet I cheated, stole, abused drugs, and lied. Your actions speak louder than words. Your ego is driving your actions. Get rid of your ego.
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Let your legacy be based on the merit of your actions on and off the field. Do not let your entire self-worth be based off the opinion of others and projected success. Let your internal beliefs be based off of your actual, non-fictional accomplishments.
Learn humility. In treatment, this will be preached to you I’m sure. Humility is the fuel of success and honesty. Humility is the absence of ego. None of us have gotten to where we are today without the help of others. Johnny, imagine your college career without the fans, without your offensive line, without your coaches. It would have been just you alone in an empty stadium.
I imagine that’s how you feel now. That’s a very good thing. You’ve never tasted the bottom of the barrel. You’ve never had to watch from the bench. Now that you have, you’ll appreciate the peak once you rise again.
Put others first. Put ego aside. Be part of your team. Find a power bigger than yourself.
It’s not your fault your got to this point. It’s not your fault you ended up in treatment.
But from this day forward, knowing all you know now, it is 100% your fault if you don’t change.
While you’re in treatment, Johnny, think of someone who used to be on your team – Josh Gordon. His lack of humility and decision to not change his behaviors stripped him of everyman’s dream – a career in the NFL.
Don’t make his mistake. Change who you are on the inside and you might just find the ball flies a little further and straighter when thrown with humility.
I wish you the best,