Football

Johnny Manziel says he’s sober, but Spring League, not NFL, may be best bet

Defense attorney Jim Darnell, left, waits with former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on Thursday, Nov., 17, 2016 before a hearing in Dallas County Criminal Court.
Defense attorney Jim Darnell, left, waits with former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on Thursday, Nov., 17, 2016 before a hearing in Dallas County Criminal Court. Dallas Morning News via TNS

An independent football league debuting in April is embracing high-profile NFL players who were shunned, extending invitations to Johnny Manziel and Ray Rice and lining up several former draft picks with the promise of a shot to display their talent.

Spring League CEO Brian Woods told The Associated Press he had conversations with representatives for Rice and Vince Young, and challenged Manziel to prove himself on the field in a few months.

“If Johnny Manziel is serious about a future in the NFL, the Spring League is willing to provide him with a platform to prove he’s still relevant,” Woods said.

Manziel declared on Twitter this week that he’s trying to be “a good person” and suggested he’s stopped partying.

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has been a free agent for most of the past year.

The Browns released him in March following two tumultuous seasons defined by inconsistent play and numerous problems off the field, including a stint in rehab.

Since then, the 24-year-old quarterback has been dumped by two agents after both demanded a second rehab trip, and navigated a domestic violence charge in Dallas that prosecutors agreed to drop when he pledged to meet certain conditions for a year.

Manziel told ESPN Friday he’s achieved sobriety without professional help and that his next goal is to play football.

“A preseason game, anything I don’t care what it is,” Manziel said. “Only need one team to believe in me and I’ll do anything to make that a possibility.”

This story includes material from The Associated Press.

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