Skip Bayless Johnny Manziel Screengrab: ‘Undisputed’

Skip Bayless and Johnny Manziel both look back with a sense of “what if?”

Bayless feels he missed signs of Manziel’s struggles, believing the young quarterback admired him. Manziel, on the other hand, regrets not living up to the hype Bayless and others championed, feeling he let them down.

The truth lies somewhere in between.

Despite past regrets, Bayless and Manziel seem to have reconciled. Manziel recently appeared on Undisputed, where Bayless apologized for hyping him up excessively. Bayless explained his original logic — believing Manziel’s greatness would eclipse LeBron James in Cleveland — but admitted he was wrong.

And he explained as much on his The Skip Bayless Show:

“If Johnny had done what I thought Johnny was capable of doing, he would’ve been bigger than LeBron in Cleveland, Ohio,” explained Bayless. “When I mentioned that on-air Wednesday on Undisputed, Johnny looked across the table at me and shook his head and said, ‘Did I think I’d become bigger than LeBron? Hell yeah,’ he said. But here was the shocker to me: this is what I did not know at the time, or I certainly would’ve backed off: Johnny Manziel just didn’t love playing football enough. He didn’t have the burning desire required to succeed at the highest level. He did not want to make those sacrifices to succeed at the highest level. He had more fun being Johnny Football. He had more fun partying. He did not like the expectation that I helped fuel.

“And by the way, I did on live TV, apologize to Johnny for creating such false expectations for him. It ate him up. It burned him out quickly. He sometimes had to resort to recreational drugs and alcohol to soothe his pain…to medicate himself against the pain and shame of failing at the highest level. LeBron loved him. Drake loved him. He signed with Klutch Sports. Rich Paul loved him; Maverick (Carter) loved him until they couldn’t anymore.”

Bayless acknowledged, after a thoughtful pause, that Manziel seemed more drawn to the off-field party scene during his playing days.

“Johnny Manziel made a trip south to hell,” continued Bayless. “And yet, when I saw him on Wednesday, he was back from hell. He knows what hell feels like. And the Johnny sitting across from me at the debate desk, I looked into those eyes and I saw a man at 31 years of age; no more boy. I don’t know, I guess he can still be a party boy. I’m not sure what he does off the field. I don’t really care anymore. I just know that the eyes I looked into were the eyes of a 31-year-old man who likes himself for the first time in his life.”

[The Skip Bayless Show on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.