In the documentary, Manziel and his best friend/manager Nate Fitch reveal that they made up the story of Johnny coming from old Texas oil money as a way to explain why someone his age was walking around with so much cash, driving such fancy cars, and traveling all around the country.
In actuality, the money had come from Manziel breaking NCAA rules to earn off of his image, name, and likeness by selling autographs.
“We talked, and I devised a plan that was brilliant,” a hilariously smug Fitch says.
“I started with, ‘How does he get caught?’ He gets caught because somebody takes a picture during a paid autograph session. You can sign autographs all you want — the part you have to conceal is money being paid.”
“You know, Nate was very okay with being the fall guy,” Manziel — who reveals he would give his grandfather cash in exchange for a check which he’d then despoit into his bank account — says. “And with that, me and Nate split everything 80-20.”
“The next thing is how are you gonna explain why you are wearing Rolexes, and driving new cars, and flying in private jets? As a freshman, you aren’t allowed to talk to the media. but they were allowed to talk to me. And so, the biggest spin that still exists today, I invented the narrative that his family was vastly wealthy,” Fitch says.
In addition to the revelation about Manziel’s lack of family wealth — to be clear, his family is still relatively wealthy, just not generational oil money rich — the documentary also reveals that he watched literally zero minutes of film while with the Cleveland Browns and considered killing himself after flaming out of the NFL.
Untold: Johnny Football premiered on Netflix on Tuesday, August 8, and is now streaming on the platform. You can check out the official teaser for the doc below.