DALLAS (Reuters) - Former U.S. football star Johnny Manziel was charged on Tuesday with hitting his former girlfriend, the latest in a string of setbacks for a quarterback whose erratic play and partying prompted the Cleveland Browns to cut him from the team in March.
A grand jury met last week to consider an indictment against Manziel, 23, who could face up to a year in jail if convicted. He now must surrender to be booked on the charge and have bail set.
“Johnny will certainly plead not guilty and we believe the evidence will support that plea,” Manziel attorney Jim Darnell said in a statement.
Dallas County prosecutors did not comment on when they expect Manziel to surrender.
The charge against Manziel stems from a January incident in which he is suspected of hitting, kidnapping and threatening to kill Colleen Crowley, 23. She accused Manziel of hitting her so hard that she temporarily lost her hearing, court papers show.
The indictment for a class-A misdemeanor charged Manziel with hitting Crowley and forcing her into a car.
Manziel, who became known as “Johnny Football” while winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012 as the best player in college football, was taken by the Browns in the first round of the National Football League draft after leaving Texas A&M University.
Cleveland cut him in March after two years of erratic play on the field and an off-the-field lifestyle that led to a trip to a rehabilitation center after his first season. He has been dropped by two agents this year and the media reported he was blamed for more than $30,000 worth of damage at a Los Angeles home during a party this month.
In a police report released in early February, Crowley said Manziel hit her after they met friends at a Dallas hotel in late January and again on the same night when they were driving to her Fort Worth home. He also threatened to kill her and himself, she said.
Last week, in a statement, Manziel said: “I’m hoping to take care of the issues in front of me right now so I can focus on what I have to do if I want to play in 2016.”
The NFL in recent years has sought to toughen its policy toward players involved in domestic violence. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said if Manziel were to sign with a team he would be “subject to all aspects of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.”
Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott