Johnny Manziel: Trip during Browns' season was 'childish, immature decision'

Johnny Manziel's decision to travel to Las Vegas during the final weekend of the 2015 season was a "childish, immature decision," Manziel said on Uninterrupted's The ThomaHawk Show podcast with former Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins and Browns left tackle Joe Thomas.

"This decision that I made, what a complete lack of respect for guys like Joe T," Manziel said on the podcast released Wednesday. "What a complete lack of respect for an organization that was trying to stick by me. ... What just a completely selfish decision."

The interview continued Manziel's efforts to revive his football career. He will play in a spring league in Austin, Texas, and has said therapy and treatment for mental health issues have helped him gain sobriety as well as mental focus.

Hawkins said on the podcast that Manziel texted him and a few other then-teammates about a year ago to apologize for his behavior and lack of professionalism in Cleveland.

"I look back at it now and I'm like, damn, I wasted a little bit of Joe T's career in Cleveland," Manziel said.

The Las Vegas trip took place the weekend of Jan. 2-3, 2016, as the Browns were playing the season finale against Pittsburgh. Manziel admitted flying to Vegas the day before the game after a walk-through, and detailed buying the blond wig to hide his identity.

He said he had planned to take a red eye to be back in time for his concussion treatment Sunday morning, but missed the flight and instead stayed out until early in the morning Vegas time.

Manziel called it a "reckless, reckless plan."

He said he made the trip because he had three or four friends in Cleveland from Texas "who were in party mode," and he was having problems at home.

"One of those problems led me to Vegas," he said. "I felt like I couldn't solidify or try and fix my home life without going out there."

Manziel did not detail the exact problem.

On Monday before the trip, Manziel said his friends had arrived and the group spent the night drinking and shooting pool at his home in suburban Cleveland. Manziel arrived Tuesday morning at an offensive line meeting and said the concussion from the previous game (a loss to Kansas City) or the drinking the night before led him to leave the meeting after 15 seconds.

The team trainers and doctors diagnosed the concussion, and placed him in the NFL protocol.

On Saturday, he boarded a noon commercial flight for Vegas, wearing a hood, a hat and sunglasses to hide his identity. When he got to Vegas, he said the blackjack and crap tables "were calling me."

As he gambled, a Vegas employee checked his ID and looked at the TV and saw Manziel's name on screen, Manziel said. When a baseball reporter recognized him, "I'm in street damage mode," Manziel said.

That's when he decided to get what he called was a "blondish brown, like, mullet" wig. He bought it at a "very, very sketchy" shop off the strip.

"I was like, I need something that makes me not look like this," Manziel said. "Do you have a mustache? A wig? Do you have anything?"

He wore the wig to Hakkasan, where to him and his friends it was "all fun and games." The group stayed out until 3 or 4 a.m. Vegas time, which Manziel pointed out was one hour before he was supposed to be in Cleveland for mandatory treatment for his concussion.

"I just turn my phone off and throw it in the drawer, and I'm like, 'All right, we'll figure it out when I wake up,'" Manziel said.

When he turned his phone on Sunday afternoon, he was greeted with a slew of texts and emails.

Manziel said word got out when someone who saw him at Hakkasan relayed the story to the media -- where he was, what he ate, what and how much they were drinking. ESPN 1100 Las Vegas, an affiliate radio station in the city, reported at the time that Manziel had the wig and was introducing himself as Billy.

Manziel said on the podcast that he didn't know about the Billy Manziel phenomenon until he got back to Cleveland and a T-shirt company started selling shirts with a drawing of him in a blond wig and the name Billy Manziel on the shirt.

"After that, crazily enough. I still go back to Cleveland," said Manziel, who said he has a photo of himself with the wig on his phone. "I sit down with [owner] Jimmy [Haslam] and I sit down with [former VP] Sashi [Brown] and I explain it to them. I explain where I'm at mentally. I explained what was going on in my home life. Just really like was open and honest with them about everything.

"And then I think they were still going to stick with me through it. I think it had rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. But at the end of the day, the people who were making the decisions, I feel like looking back at our conversations, they still had faith that if I could get my head right and get where I needed to be mentally that I still had potential and a future there."

That changed, Manziel said, when Hue Jackson was hired as coach.

Manziel was released in March of 2016, after a tumultuous offseason that Manziel described as "self-sabotage mode."

"There's no hard feelings there," Manziel said of the Browns releasing him.