‘Untold: Johnny Football’ Explained: Was Johnny Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder?


The Netflix documentary, Untold: Johnny Football, makes us privy to the fascinating life of the sports personality who once became a household name in American society. The documentary talks about the highs and lows encountered by the quarterback from the time he started playing football and how he was not able to cope with the fame and success that came his way. So, let’s find out how Johnny Manziel rose to fame, what kind of obstacles came his way, what were the circumstances that caused his downfall, and if he was ever able to make peace with himself.

How Did Johnny Football Rise To Fame?

Johnny was a natural, and the moment he stepped on the football field, people knew that he was meant for greatness. There were players who were working day and night and sweating it out on the ground to cope with the high level of competition, but Johnny Football was built differently. He would party on the weekends and come hungover to the field and play a match while profusely sweating and coping with the dehydration, yet do something so extraordinary that the coaches and experts couldn’t help but talk about him. Johnny stepped on the field for the very first time when he was in 10th grade, and he hoped that some university would recognize his talent and take him in.

Texas A&M University took him onboard, and slowly, the eyes of the entire nation turned towards him. In the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) championship, Texas A&M performed exceptionally well, and people started taking notice of the talent of a young quarterback who was already causing waves in the circuit. There were talks that he would become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, though Johnny didn’t believe at the time that it could happen.

The last match of the championship was with the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Texas won that match even when the odds were not in their favor. Johnny Football became a national hero, and after that, his life changed completely. Johnny, generally, used to meet his parents after the match, but that day, he couldn’t do that easily since there was a mob of people waiting for him outside. Johnny didn’t feel what he should have felt or what he thought he would once he became famous. He got stressed seeing the chaos and mayhem, and he just felt like running away and hiding somewhere where nobody could see him. That was the time when Johnny started indulging in a lot of activities that he should never have but before he could take charge of things and understand what was happening with him, the ship had already sailed. 

What Issue Did Johnny Have With The NCAA?

Johnny realized that even after being such a famous player, he was not able to earn a single penny. The NCAA rules were such that he couldn’t commercialize his fame and popularity. Johnny didn’t feel that it was a fair deal, so he went on a couple of paid autograph drives and earned a good sum of money, without telling anybody as he knew that what he was doing was illegal. Johnny’s friend, Nate Fitch, became his manager, and together they started earning a lot of money, which led to the NCAA getting suspicious about them. The NCAA had a separate division to look into such matters, and they started their investigation to see if Johnny had violated any rules. Nate was a smart man, and he found a way to make it look like all that money that Johnny had was actually coming from his family business and had nothing to do with autograph drives. The NCAA wasn’t able to find any evidence, and they came to the conclusion that Johnny had not taken any sort of money.

After a minor punishment of a half-match suspension, Johnny was once again back on the field. Johnny didn’t learn from his past experiences, and he kept on doing what he felt like. He didn’t realize that a time would come when he would have to bear the consequences of his actions. He felt as if he were infallible, but obviously, he was wrong. As a third person who is not acquainted with this flashy world of American Football, it does seem a bit unfair that the students never get anything when the universities and the NCAA earn millions of bucks by using the names of the players. The Texas University at which Johnny was studying got huge amounts of funding once Johnny made his mark on the football field. Everybody benefited except the players, and that, to any prudent man, seems kind of unfair. We understand that the system has been there from times immemorial, and there would be a reason why such rules are there, but still, as it is portrayed in Untold: Johnny Football, we felt that any man would try to bend the rules a little bit and find loopholes so that he could also reap the benefits of his own hard work.

What Happened After Johnny Joined The Cleveland Browns?

Eric Burkhardt took Johnny under his wing, and he wanted the best team to take him on board on NFL draft night. Johnny was picked up by the Cleveland Browns, and the owners believed that he would lead the team out of the abyss, but nothing of the sort happened. Johnny didn’t like the atmosphere, and he didn’t feel the same excitement that he used to when he paid for his university. During this time, Johnny Football developed a drinking problem, and he was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Football ceased to be fun, as it used to be earlier, and the media didn’t lose any opportunity to scrutinize and criticize Johnny’s undisciplined attitude. Johnny was late for team meetings, and he was not at all focused and it felt like he had started taking everything for granted. All hell broke loose when he went to LA on the weekend to party and wasn’t able to return on time for the match. His stint with the Cleveland Browns ended on a sour note, and more than feeling disappointed in himself, Johnny felt as if someone had lifted a huge burden from his shoulders. He wasn’t able to help his cause, and he wanted them to take him out as he didn’t feel like playing anymore for them.

Johnny played for an indoor football team named the FCF Zappers, but after his NFL career fizzled out, he didn’t have his heart in the game. The game that had given him so much fame and success didn’t mean anything. Football was a thing of the past for Manziel, and nobody could have imagined that such a time would come in his life, especially after he had become the first freshman who had successfully bagged Heisman Trophy in 2012. Today, Johnny lives in Scottsdale, away from all the limelight, and has become a businessman, but people still remember him as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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