Jerome Miron-USA Today

Thursday’s Mashup: Johnny Manziel offers to play in NFL ‘for FREE,’ opens up about start of downward spiral

Lucy Burdge
March 01, 2018 - 7:06 am

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire

NBA: Philadelphia at Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Minnesota at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Boston, 7 p.m. (NBCSN, NESN)
NHL: Chicago at San Jose, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)


-- Johnny Manziel is ready to return to the NFL and is so eager he doesn’t even want the league to pay him to play.

“I’ll play again for FREE. It’s not about the money it’s about getting back to doing what I miss and love,” the former Browns quarterback wrote in a series of tweets on Wednesday. “I’m reflecting on the past..not dwelling on it. Only way to go for me is up #ComebackSZN. I’ve been down and out for too long. Nothing but positivity on this end.”

During a recent podcast with former teammates Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins, Manziel opened up about his infamous trip to Las Vegas during the 2015 season when he was supposed to be on concussion protocol with the Browns.

Manziel said he made the decision to go to Vegas for just a few hours because he thought it was the only way to "solidify or fix” problems with his home life. He had suffered a concussion during a game in December but did not report his symptoms. He was eventually taken to the hospital after feeling “loopy” during an offensive line meeting.

"And then it's kind of like, 'My season's over, it's the last game of the season, I'm done,'" Manziel said. "And then I was going through some things with just my at-home life. That was my biggest problem that year. It wasn't the football life. It wasn't what was going on in the building. I loved getting there early .... It was what was going on at home that was causing me so many problems and one of those problems led me to Vegas. I felt like I couldn't solidify or fix my home life without going out there."

“So I had this reckless, reckless plan,” he continued. “On a Saturday after the walk-through, I’m going to catch a 12 o’clock (commercial 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."

Needless to say, he did not make that flight back.

"And then I’m like, ‘You know what, that craps table is calling my name, that blackjack table’s calling my name.’ Because the Horseshoe in Cleveland’s corrupted me,” Manziel said. “So I sit down and the guy IDs me. I hand him my ID and he takes a look at the TV right behind me and there’s an announcement, my name’s on the bottom of the ticker, it’s a Browns something and he’s like, ‘That’s you.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah.’”

"It's to the point in time where I'm able to look back, reflect, know that it was a mistake, know that I made some really childish, immature decisions," Manziel continued. "This decision that I made -- what a complete lack of respect for guys like Joe T. What a complete lack of respect for an organization that was trying to stick by me even with having a concussion at this point in time. And everything -- what a complete selfish decision."

-- In a memo sent to the NBA’s board of governors announcing the historic fine against Mark Cuban for his comments about tanking, Adam Silver warned teams against tanking and will be keeping an eye out for the practice.

“The integrity of the competition on the playing court is the cornerstone of our league,” the memo reads. “It is our pact with the fans and with each other, the fundamental reason we exist as a preeminent sporting organization, the very product that we sell. With everything else changing around us, it is the one thing in our league that can never change. We must do everything in our power to protect the actual and perceived integrity of the game.”

The league fined Cuban $600,000 last week after he said his Mavericks should tank the rest of the season.

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option,'" Cuban said. "(Commissioner Adam Silver) would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Silver made it clear with the fine and the memo he certainly did hate hearing that.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  "I don't think it's time to go for him. He's too young. He's still athletic. He has so much talent. I don't think it's a good decision." -- David Ortiz, on Rob Gronkowski considering retirement