Checking into Rehab

Johnny Manziel, the talented Texas A&M quarterback who became the first freshman Heisman trophy winner in 2012 and 22nd overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, has voluntarily checked into rehab.

This news comes as a capstone to a season riddled with substance abuse-related suspensions of multiple players with otherwise boundless potential.

It’s no secret the NFL has a drinking problem.

Its players, including now-Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, have felt the consequences of excessive drinking. Prater and Gordon are just two of the many players league-wide who have faced suspension for alcohol abuse this season.

The NFL’s viewers, including the record-breaking 114.4 million people who tuned into Super Bowl XLIX, are often drinking during game day. Nielsen data found that the millions of cases of beer sold in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl made it the 8th largest day for beer sales, following other common drinking occasions such as New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July.

Why then does America act surprised when its star players check into rehab to overcome their addictions?

Johnny Football’s History of Alcohol Abuse

Manziel has been known as a heavy drinking “party boy” since attending college at Texas A&M University, about two hours outside of Houston. As for most young men in college, people tended to assume he was just having a good time. Living up his youth. Photos of his drunken nights out became running jokes and internet memes.

And his drinking may very well just be a phase. It may be immaturity as Manziel is still just a few years out of teenagehood. It may be the sudden, overwhelming reality of becoming a 21-year-old millionaire and being hailed as a football icon. He may have buckled down, passed through it and been just fine without treatment.

But as it stands, his drinking is affecting his future. He is missing opportunities and letting his talent flounder because of parties and alcohol binges.

Manziel went from being a record-breaking college athlete to suffering a devastating defeat by the Cincinnati Bengals (30-0) during his first start. While that may have been chalked up to inexperience in the NFL, Manziel didn’t make the gains necessary to improve. He allowed alcohol to make him sloppy, missing a Saturday morning Browns meeting in Week 17 because of a hangover.

The Road to Recovery

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes an addicted person as one who, in part, continues to use a substance despite known negative consequences. Other criteria of addiction include a desire to limit use and prioritization of the substance over responsibilities. Manziel showed clear signs of a potential addiction when examined under these check points.

Whether or not his check-in to rehab is deemed necessary by the judging eyes of the American public, we at Addiction Center wholeheartedly support and applaud his decision. Checking into rehab is never an easy decision, but statistics prove the process is more effective when the patient is admitted voluntarily.

Manziel’s family, colleagues and team appear to be supportive of his decision as well, which could make recovery more sustainable.

We respect Johnny’s initiative in this decision and will fully support him throughout this process,” a statement by Browns general manager Ray Farmer read. “Our players’ health and well-being will always be of the utmost importance to the Cleveland Browns.

Last Updated:


Addiction Center

Photo of Addiction Center
  • Since 2014, Addiction Center has been an informational web guide for those who are struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring behavioral and mental health disorders. All content included on Addiction Center is created by our team of researchers and journalists. Our articles are fact-based and sourced from relevant publications, government agencies and medical journals.

  • More from Addiction Center