Sherman, the Alouettes’ first-year head coach, said he loved the accountability Manziel displayed, saying he took it as a sign of maturity. Sherman knows Manziel better than most: He recruited the Texas boy wonder to Texas A&M when he was the head coach in College Station from 2008 to 2011, and he oversaw Manziel’s redshirt freshman year.
Sherman was fired before Manziel’s first season, in 2012, when Manziel led the Aggies to an 11-2 record and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player, and so he was gone before stories emerged about Manziel’s partying and at least one arrest in the summer of 2012. The Manziel that Sherman knew and recruited was quiet and respectful, always saying, ‘Yes sir’ and ‘No sir,’ while lighting up the practice field with the kind of ridiculous plays, as Sherman put it, that captured the imagination of a sporting nation a year later.
“He’s the same kid now as he was back then, in my opinion,” Sherman said, adding, “It seems like he’s managing his life well, right now.”
The key words: Right now.
A lot happened between Sherman’s departure in 2011 and now for Manziel to make the circle back to civility complete, if he truly has. At the end of a tumultuous two-year tenure with the Cleveland Browns that included more partying, demotions and a stint in rehab, Manziel said he decided at some level to “self-sabotage” his way out and sign with another N.F.L. team. It was a bad plan.
“They were tired of it and I was as well,” he said of the Browns’ management. “I wanted a fresh start. Unfortunately, everything that happened in January put the stamp of disapproval on me.”
What happened in January 2016 was that Manziel was accused of, and later charged with, misdemeanor assault for hitting his former girlfriend in the side of the head and threatening her. The case was dropped last November after Manziel reached a deal with Texas prosecutors that required him to complete counseling for anger management and substance abuse.