Ryan Leaf Says ‘People Have Taken Advantage Of Johnny Manziel’ Once Again With Latest Doc

Ryan Leaf walks onto the field before a game between Tennessee and Georgia State.

Getty Image

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf shared his opinion of the latest Johnny Manziel documentary that’s being viewed by college football fans. Leaf says that the Netflix show has, once again, taken advantage of the Texas A&M star.

He believes the doc highlighted the wrong parts of Manziel’s college and professional careers without addressing the troubled passer’s mental health struggles.

Leaf’s story is one widely known, and in many ways, it was similar to that of Johnny Football’s. Following an All-American career at Washington State, the signal caller was selected with the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.

While with the Cougars, Leaf was a Heisman trophy candidate, throwing for 330 yards a game as a junior and leading the program to its first ever PAC-10 title.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the same success at the professional level.

Leaf’s NFL career was marred by both poor attitude and injuries. The passer didn’t respond well to criticism in his rookie year after throwing 15 interceptions to just two touchdowns. He was often heard blaming teammates for his poor performance which painted him in a negative light in the media.

He would then miss his entire second season after suffering a training camp injury.

He reverted back to his poor play in Year 3 with the Chargers, tossing 18 picks and going 1-8 as a starter. Many in his locker room said he alienated San Diego players and in 2001, he was released.

Leaf later landed with the Cowboys, though he failed to win a game.

Though he’d sign a one-year deal with the Seahawks after his failed stint in Dallas, the quarterback abruptly retired before training camp. He offered no explanation on his decision.

After that retirement, Leaf would struggle with substance abuse and trouble with the law. He was arrested on multiple occasions for both drug charges and burglary. In 2014, he was incarcerated.

Ryan Leaf gives his thoughts on the Johnny Manziel documentary.

Leaf has previously compared Manziel’s career to his own, saying in 2016 that it was “like looking in a mirror” upon seeing the passer’s off-field struggles.

Those views haven’t changed, and this week, he criticized the Netflix show.

Ryan Leaf spoke on Outkick’s Hot Mic podcast, detailing his opinion of the popular doc.

“I was hopeful for this. I’d love to hear from Johnny. We probably only heard 100 words come out of his mouth during the documentary. Nothing.

“I put this on Netflix… You have done everybody such a disservice. Once again, people have taken advantage of Johnny Manziel.”

Leaf suggests that the show should’ve looked for solutions rather than glossing over the mistakes made and making his meteoric football rise the focus. He was also critical of the handling of Manziel’s suicide attempt, something that Leaf also experienced in 2012.

“There were no solutions. There was no addressing the bipolar diagnosis and how he’s dealing with it and how he’s living with it around his substance abuse. Then at the end, they show he talks about being in a frat, the football team is a frat. Then they show him, and he’s sitting around a table with all his new frat buddies pounding beers.

“I just don’t know what they were trying to achieve.”

The documentary has been viewed as wildly successful by the majority of college football fans, but Leaf didn’t see it through the same lens. He did note that it could be because of his own personal life experiences and his possibly being too close to the issues at hand.

Still, he wishes the show would’ve done more to highlight Manziel’s mental diagnosis and ways to treat it without resorting to drugs and alcohol.

“I feel like Johnny can be a beacon of hope,” Leaf said. That can only come through accountability and recovery in the passer’s opinion.