Untold: Johnny Football review: Considerably lightweight documentary

Untold: Johnny Football covers the very brief rise and fall of football star Johnny Manziel, who rose to prominence thanks to his incredible talents, only for him to burn out within a few years. The film is streaming on Netflix.


Johnny Manziel got the name “Johnny Football” very early on in his journey after making a name for himself in high school and then at the university level for Texas A&M. When A&M decided to leave the “Big 12” and join the SEC, they were not given a chance.

However, Johnny took the championship by storm and built a steady reputation. Outside of the games, Johnny was known as a bit of a bad boy but people tended to accept it as a necessary evil to balance out his success.

Johnny made history by becoming the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, and there was only one way to go following that. His exploits brought in a lot of money to the university and Johnny wanted a piece as well, despite the NCAA’s bylaws forbidding him from benefiting from his image.

After being investigated by the NCAA, and propagating a “bad boy” image in the media, Johnny decided to drop out of college and turn to professional football after his sophomore year.

He just managed to get signed for the Cleveland Browns, but by then the success and the attention had gotten to Johnny and he kept self-sabotaging until he was let go by the franchise and never played football ever again.


The subject of the film is a great example of what too much media exposure and fame can do to a young person’s mind, and while his situation isn’t too common, there are definitely lessons to be learned.


The documentary doesn’t explore Johnny’s life thoroughly and mostly breezes past everything. The talking heads offer their opinions with archival footage but it all feels a little barebones.

For example, his bipolar diagnosis gets one line and is not looked into as a possible reason for his troubles. In fact, despite all the turbulence in his life, the reasons behind his actions are mostly kept vague.


Untold: Johnny Football is definitely one of the weaker products of the series that follows the “lightning in a bottle” journey of Johnny Manziel who had a few years in the spotlight but is thankfully doing much better away from it right now. It’s a good attempt, but there just enough weight to the film for it to be engaging.

Untold: Johnny Football
Untold: Johnny Football review: Considerably lightweight documentary 1

Director: Ryan Duffy

Date Created: 2023-08-08 12:30

Editor's Rating:

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