Brandon Marshall: Johnny Manziel needs to walk away from NFL, get help
Marshall spoke on Super Bowl Live about his mental health issues and how they relate to what Johnny Manziel is going through right now.
The Cleveland Browns issued a terse statement on Tuesday that all but announced they were done with Johnny Manziel, the team's first-round draft pick in 2014, after his latest off-field incidents. Over the last couple of weeks alone, Manziel appeared in more videos out on the town in Dallas, then he was involved in an alleged altercation with his girlfriend which required a helicopter to try to locate his whereabouts.
Those incidents followed a roadside incident with his girlfriend in November (which the NFL investigated but did not discipline him for), as well as multiple videos of him partying and drinking during the season, and a report that he was partying in Las Vegas the night before the Browns' regular season finale wearing a disguise that included a blonde wig and fake mustache. His behavior this season led a source to tell the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Manziel is a "train wreck."
In the wake of all of this, New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall felt compelled to speak about Manziel in an appearance on Super Bowl Live with Greg Gumbel, Bill Cowher, Steve Beuerlein, and Jason La Canfora.
May 3, 2011, at 9:35, I prepared a letter to the Miami Dolphins, this was during the lockout, and whoever else in the NFL that I had to send it to. And this was a letter stating that I was going to walk away from football because my life was in turmoil and it was a mess. I spent three months in the outpatient program at McClean Hospital where I did a neurological evaluation and a clinical evaluation to see if I was even capable of changing with what I was dealing with.
… So, for me, this has nothing to do with football. Johnny Manziel needs to walk away from the game, maybe even go to McClean hospital, and get his life under control. This young man has a serious issue. I feel for him, I understand what he's going through, and I wish him well. But, all of us in the NFL and the surrounding the NFL need to know that this is a serious issue and I pray that he gets the help that he needs.
In response to what Marshall said, former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher had a lot to say about the pressured placed on NFL players to never show weakness.
It's powerful words, to me, coming from Brandon right here because here's a guy, he's in the community, this is a compadre right there. He's reaching out to him. I think, I talked to you (Marshall) about this, I said, 'You know, it's not easy at times to be an NFL player in the National Football League because you're in the spotlight, there's a lot of pressure put on you. Not only pressure from you that you put on yourself but also from the outside coming in, whether it be family or friends. The expectations that people want you to live up to. Sometimes it's OK to reach out and get help. It's OK. That's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength to recognize I need someone to help me through these difficult times. I need someone to be able to lean on.' I agree with you, for Johnny Manziel, he was in rehab last summer and obviously at some point he still has some issues to deal with.
Marshall, who has been extremely open about his mental health issues and steadfast in his support of and advocacy for other people and players that might have them, then repeatedly emphasized that what he dealth with (and what Manziel might be dealing with) is a sickness.
It's a sickness. You said it best, coach. All of our lives we've been told to mask our pain. To show no signs of weakness. That's what makes us great at football. That's what makes us who we are. That's why he's Money Manziel or Johnny Whatever we call him. So for Johnny, he has to do exactly what you said. Show weakness and that's a sign of strength.
I just want everyone to understand that this is a sickness. That's not an excuse for behavioral issues, but we have to understand that there's a lot of Americans, a lot of people in this world that deal with this.
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