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Johnny Manziel says his football career is probably ‘in the past’

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Johnny Manziel is at a point in his life that he’s ready to concede that his football career is probably “in the past.”

The former Cleveland Browns quarterback made the declaration in an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal for a story that was published Saturday.

“In the past, probably, is the way I’d characterize it,” Manziel told the newspaper when asked about his football career. “I’ve finally got to a point where I’m trying to achieve happiness in life, not happiness on the football field.

“I know a lot of people probably want me to come back and play and give it another chance, but I don’t know, as far as being a person and figuring out life as a young adult — trying to make it and figure it out — if I’ve ever been in a better place than I’m in right now. I can honestly say I’m happy and I’m doing the right things to try and put a smile on my face every day, and that means more to me than going out and grinding on a football field.”

The 27-year-old Manziel’s last appearance on a football field came with the Memphis Express in the Alliance of American Football in 2019 before the league folded. He joined the AAF after being released by the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. That league also said he couldn’t play for another CFL team.

The former Heisman Trophy winner was taken by Cleveland with the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. But after two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released him in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter.

“During that time when I got drafted, I didn’t put in the time that I needed to be a great player and I don’t think my heart was in it,” Manziel told the newspaper. “And I think when I went back to Canada, it was the same way. I truly believed and truly thought it was what I wanted to do, and my heart wasn’t in it, and it worked out the way it did.”

Manziel has dealt with several off-field issues. In 2016, a domestic assault charge against him in Dallas was dismissed after he took an anger management course and participated in the NFL’s substance abuse program. In a recent interview, he said he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has stopped drinking.

Now living in Scottsdale, Arizona, Manziel told the newspaper that the game of football “humbled” him and for that he’s grateful.

“Thank God I did get a chance to be humbled, because when you think you’re at the top of the world, it’s a dangerous place,” he said.

He told the newspaper that he was thankful for the impact Kliff Kingsbury, his former Texas A&M coach, had on him. He said Kingsbury, now the Arizona Cardinals‘ head coach, is a “guy who’s changed my life for the better and who I’ll always be thankful for.”

Manziel had a historic 2012 season with the Aggies, culminated by becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman. He also became the first freshman in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

His college success didn’t translate to professional football and the label of being a failed NFL prospect has stuck with him but he told the Avalanche-Journal he is content with what he was able to accomplish on the football field.

“People can call me whatever they want, but at the end of the day, I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud of what I accomplished. I bettered myself. I bettered my family’s life. I got a chance to play amazing college football, and it didn’t work out in the NFL and that’s OK,” he said.

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NFL camps likely to have fewer players

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In an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, NFL teams are likely to bring fewer than the regular 90 players they ordinarily bring to training camp whenever it begins, per league sources.

One source said he believed it’s likely that teams will go to camp with 80-man rosters, and another source said it’s “definitely not 90.” A third league source said he has “heard lots of discussion about 75 players potentially instead of 90,” especially with the reduction in preseason games and teams not needing as many players for camp as normal.

There also are increasing questions from league sources about whether camp can start on time with the number of coronavirus cases around the country spiking.

The NFL also is considering expanding its practice squads to 16-20 players in the event of a coronavirus outbreak; if there were one, teams would have a deeper stash of players to activate to play games.

But the league and NFLPA are trying to figure out the right number of players each team can bring to camp, and that appears to be between 75 and 80. One plan being further discussed is splitting the roster into two groups and having each practice at a different time, no matter how many players are allowed to report to camp.

Again, questions persist regarding protocols, and they are not going away anytime soon. In an abnormal year, the league is deciding on which abnormal measures it needs to deploy to combat a pandemic.

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Stadium sponsor FedEx asks Redskins to change nickname

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FedEx, which has naming rights to the stadium in which the Washington Redskins play, made a request Thursday that the team change its nickname.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement obtained by ESPN.

Team owner Dan Snyder has been under renewed pressure to change its nickname, with protestors reportedly targeting their sponsors, according to Adweek.

FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a combined $620 billion asking the companies to sever ties with the team unless they change their controversial name, Adweek reported Wednesday.

Snyder has been under more pressure in recent weeks to change the name given the social climate following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Native American leaders want owner Dan Snyder to change the name, which the franchise has used since 1933. In the past, groups protested the name and tried to win in court. Those efforts failed.

The Washington Post reported that Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, made it clear the nickname needed to be changed if the Redskins wanted to return to the district.

That stance serves as a potential roadblock for the franchise if it wants to move back to the district when its lease on the land at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, is up after the 2027 season. Washington is looking at sites in the district, Maryland and Virginia.

District officials had made it clear they’d like the franchise to return to the city, where it played until leaving RFK Stadium after the 1996 season. The federal government owns the land, but last year Norton introduced a bill that called for it to be sold to the city at a fair market value.

ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.

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NFL plans to play Black national anthem before Week 1 games

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“Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” commonly known as the Black national anthem, is expected to be performed live or played before every Week 1 NFL game, and the NFL is also considering a variety of other measures to recognize victims of police brutality during the upcoming season, a source familiar with the league’s discussions told The Undefeated on Thursday.

The song would be performed before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the sources said. The NFL’s season opener is scheduled for Sept. 10, with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

Having recently displayed increased awareness about the problems of systemic racism, the NFL, in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. The NFL also may produce educational programs about victims, among other plans.

Early last month, commissioner Roger Goodell in a video admitted that the league had erred in how it handled peaceful NFL player protests of police brutality and systemic oppression, condemned racism and affirmed that Black lives matter, pledging his allegiance to the players in the battle for equal justice under the law.

Also in June, the league revealed plans to increase its social justice footprint by pledging to donate $250 million over a 10-year period.

The league hopes its efforts demonstrate “a genuine commitment to the public, players and coaches and that player voices continue to be heard,” the source wrote in a text message. “This is key to educating fans, and becoming a prominent voice in the fight to end racism.”

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