The Spring League, which held its inaugural season last year, is a three-week scouting event in Austin, Texas. It consists of four teams that play two games apiece and will be broadcast on Turner Sports’ streaming service. Manziel will play on the South team.
Manziel spoke about playing in the Spring League in a statement provided to Bleacher Report:
“Football has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Sometimes you take for granted how much you value something until it’s gone. My goal is to make it back to the NFL and I realize I have to earn that privilege. The Spring League has provided me with a great opportunity to play ball again, and ultimately, that is all I want to do. I miss the competition. I’d like to thank Brian Woods and The Spring League staff for this opportunity to play the game I love. I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I’m 25 years old and I know my best football is ahead of me.”
Manziel also posted a tweet about his participation in the Spring League after the announcement:
Johnny Manziel @JManziel2
Back in Texas where it all started. I’ll be joining @TheSpringLeague in Austin to get #ComebackSZN started! Can’t wait to get back on the field and show NFL scouts what I can do! #cantwaitforspring https://t.co/zMk5223HCc
Previous participants in the Spring League include running back Fred Jackson, tight end Kellen Winslow II, quarterback Ricky Stanzi and running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
“We’re excited to have such a dynamic player in Johhny Manziel taking part in the Spring League,” Spring League CEO Brian Woods said in a statement provided to Bleacher Report. “We believe our platform is the ideal forum for Mr. Manziel to enact his NFL comeback.”
Manziel spent the first two years of his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns after he was selected 22nd overall in the 2014 draft.
During his brief stay in Cleveland, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner completed 57.0 percent of his passes for 1,675 yards and seven touchdowns with seven interceptions.
However, Manziel was cut in March 2016 after his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, said he assaulted her. The assault charge against Manziel was dropped after he attended an anger management course, a domestic violence victim panel and a substance abuse program.
On Monday, he told Good Morning America he’s no longer drinking, per CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson:
“No, I’m not. Here’s the way I look at it—going back the last couple years of my life, I was self-medicating with alcohol. That’s what I thought was making me happy and getting [me] out of that depression to a point where I had some sense of happiness. …
“What did that get me? Where did that get me except out of the NFL? Where did that get me? Disgrace? I went a solid five months until I really fell back into a little depression where I didn’t drink, but still I was going to therapy. The difference that I know this year is I started looking at my mental health.”
The former Texas AM standout also said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“I am taking medication for bipolar, and I am working to try to make sure I don’t fall back into any type of depression, because I know where that leads me and I know how slippery a slope that is for me,” he said.
Manziel’s comeback journey included an offer from the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but a Jan. 31 deadline for the sides to strike a deal passed without an agreement.
Still, he’s maintained an optimistic outlook as he continues to pursue a second chance.
“I’m not expecting anything,” Manziel told Pardon My Take (h/t For the Win’s Andrew Joseph). “… I know it’s going to be a journey, and it’s going to take some time. But I still feel like I have the time to do it and make it happen. So that’s the end goal, that’s the long-term goal for me.”
Saturday, April 7
12:30 p.m.: Spring League East vs. Spring League West
4:30 p.m.: Spring League North vs. Spring League South (Manziel)
Saturday, April 14
12:30 p.m.: Spring League North vs. Spring League East
4:30 p.m.: Spring League West vs. Spring League South (Manziel)
Bleacher Report is owned by Turner Broadcasting.