NFL Network analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders sounded off Thursday about Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel's relationship with his ex-girlfriend, and the toll he believes it is taking on the young signal-caller.
According to SI.com, Manziel's ex-girlfriend—Colleen Crowley—alleged in a Forth Worth police report that the former Heisman Trophy winner struck her multiple times at a hotel and in her car on Jan. 30.
Per Rebecca Lopez of WFAA News 8, it is also alleged that Manziel told Crowley, "shut up or I'll kill us both," during the altercation.
In the wake of those allegations coming to light, Sanders essentially labeled Johnny Football's relationship with Crowley as toxic, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com:
Johnny's in love. And Johnny's in love with something that's crippling him right now. I understand it. And it upsets me that grownups don't understand it. Because he feels as though this game don't love him, the people in this game don't love him, so the only thing that he associates with love is that thing that's really inflicting a lot of pain on him and that's his girlfriend.
The former Dallas Cowboys cornerback further explained his stance by stressing that the relationship is Manziel's biggest problem rather than Crowley herself:
It's hard to be a young kid. You have to go through these trials and tribulations to find yourself and that's what he doing right now. He's trying to find himself. And I empathize with him. Johnny's girlfriend. That's his issue.
I'm not saying she is the problem. I'm saying their relationship is inflammatory.
His last two issues have been with her. Take away that and what you got?
In addition to the latest alleged incident between Manziel and Crowley, they were pulled over in October after arguing in their vehicle, at which point Crowley accused the former Texas A&M star of pushing her head against the window, per ESPN.com's Pat McManamon.
Sanders believes the Browns' handling of those situations didn't do Manziel any favors in terms of his mental state:
I think a lot of the situation was handled wrong in Cleveland. I don't think they really had the infrastructure that they needed to really facilitate this kid.
At that one point the kid really had a good game and then he was benched. Do you know what that does to someone mentally and psychologically, especially dealing with what he's dealt with?
Despite the accusations that have been levied against Manziel, the 23-year-old signal-caller told TMZ Sports they were untrue and that he's fine.
"I'm completely stable. I'm safe and secure," Manziel said.
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Even so, the Browns are set to move on from Manziel in March due to an accumulation of off-field issues, according to McManamon.
If no trade partner can be found, then Cleveland will be eligible to release him on March 9, which is when the new league year officially begins.
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