DALLAS (AP) — After missing a court-ordered deadline, Johnny Manziel appeared before a judge Tuesday and promised to meet the stipulations required to get the troubled quarterback’s domestic violence case dismissed while saying his distrust of the NFL played a part in the delay.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner said he doesn’t want to disappoint Judge Roberto Canas, who warned that he or a jury could decide Manziel’s fate if the deal reached in November is revoked.
The 24-year-old Manziel faced a misdemeanor charge that carried a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine after he was accused of hitting and threatening former girlfriend Colleen Crowley during a night out in January 2016. The judge said he called the hearing because Manziel missed a deadline for an update on the progress of meeting his conditions, including one that requires the former Cleveland Browns player to work through the NFL or another agency on a substance-abuse program.
Asked by the judge to explain how things would be going forward, Manziel said he responded quickly when attorney Jim Darnell told him the judge wasn’t happy.
“Since that day everything’s been going extremely smoothly and my life is trending upward,” Manziel said in a 70-second statement. “I don’t even want to let this get anywhere near the rabbit hole that you were describing. I’m taking this responsibility. This is helping me get my life back together.”
Manziel said he was slow to get the process started in part because he was hesitant to work with the NFL. He said the involvement of the NFL Players Association, which administers the league’s drug program, also slowed the process.
The former Texas A&M star was suspended four games last season for a substance-abuse violation even though he wasn’t under contract. The Browns released him last March, two years after drafting him in the first round. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the domestic case remains under review by the league.
“I don’t necessarily always believe in what the NFL does (or) have a lot of trust in them based on past situations, based on other players, how they got treated,” Manziel told the judge. “So I was very cautious in that regard. Having this being involved with them was kind of a slippery thing with me.”
After the hearing, Manziel responded to questions with brief answers as he was leaving the courthouse, saying he was “keeping all his options open” about a possible return to the NFL or another pro league. He said he was working out and hoped to be in an NFL training camp in July.
In his first meeting with Manziel since the agreement was reached, Canas had stern words for the quarterback whose party-boy reputation hastened a quick demise in the NFL.
“I have gotten pretty good at being able to tell when a guy is serious about his dismissal contract and guys who are, ‘Eh, as soon as I walk out of court, forget that. I’ll do that when I want to or I’ll get around to it or when it’s convenient for me,'” Canas said. “If there are any roots of that latter kind of message being planted in your brain, I want to dissuade you of that right now.”
Canas told Manziel he would probably get probation if the case went to trial, but that there would be “another dozen or so” conditions beyond the current stipulations.
Besides the substance-abuse program requirement, Manziel has to stay out of trouble for a year along with completing an anger management program and attending a domestic violence impact panel. He is also required to stay away from his former girlfriend.
“Not everybody who comes through here gets this kind of opportunity because right now you are in charge of what happens to your case,” Canas said. “I would hate for you to miss out on the opportunity that you’ve got right before you.”
The allegations stem from a night out when Crowley said Manziel accosted her at a Dallas hotel, a confrontation that continued downstairs to the valet station. She said he forced her into a car and a valet disregarded her pleas for help. The two eventually drove to where her car was parked in front of a Dallas bar, she said in an affidavit. She said Manziel got into the driver’s seat and began to drive. Crowley said Manziel stopped when she tried to jump out of the car, but then he dragged her back inside and hit her.
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