"Johnny Football" is coming to Alabama this fall to speak on mental health and substance abuse, two issues he has struggled with in his journey from Heisman winner to the NFL and beyond.

In 2012, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. He was later drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but his NFL career ended in 2015 due to a number of off-field issues.

Manziel has since played in the Canadian Football League, the Alliance of American Football and Fan Controlled Football.

The former Texas A&M signal caller has been open about his mental health problems, revealing in 2023 that he suffered from bipolar disorder and had considered taking his own life.

“I got diagnosed as bipolar and I felt like it was the same as being called an alcoholic or a drug addict,” he said in a Netflix documentary. “I think I was just running from problems ... I had planned to do everything that I wanted to do at that point in my life. Spend as much money as I possibly could and then my plan was to take my life."

In August, Manziel will be the keynote speaker at the Annual VitAL Conference in Tuscaloosa, which will take place August 26-27.

VitAL Alabama is partnering with the National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH) "to offer an interdisciplinary education/training opportunity."

The former football star's presentation, "The Weight of Great: The Journey of Johnny Manziel," will be part of a series of lessons pertaining to the overall theme of "Rural Health: Stronger Together."

"[Manziel's] professional career was brief, playing just two seasons while dealing with personal issues off the field," VitAL says on its website. "Today, Manziel is focused on health, mental wellness, and using his platform to raise awareness around these important topics. He has been open about his struggles with mental health and substance use, sharing his journey towards a positive, purposeful life after fame at such a young age. Manziel hopes to inspire others through vulnerability and advocacy in this space."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email trent.baker@1819news.com.

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