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Jun 12, 2014; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) during minicamp at Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

"Hey Johnny Manziel: We Want New, Not Different!"

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The title of this article is based on the type of sentiment that has been tossed Johnny Manziel‘s way throughout the entire draft process and since the Cleveland Browns selected the Texas A&M quarterback. Manziel was a lightening rod in the draft process, to the point that draft experts, including those at ESPN, started categorizing him separately. He was viewed not as a QB, but as an athlete or a playmaker, which are monikers given to recruits going into college that don’t really have a position or skill set. Yet Manziel, as different as he seemed, has always been a QB and was drafted by the Browns to play that role. That they drafted him at 22 instead of 4, 8 or 9 tells you they think he has work to do.

Since he has been drafted the media and social media has been all over his every move. They have looked at what he has said, who he has hung out with, his body language during drills and obviously all the different pictures and videos that have surfaced. Browns fans are rightfully concerned that Manziel’s off the field issues will cause problems for the team on the field. After watching star Josh Gordon possibly burn his chance at stardom, pun fully intended, fans are nervous about a partying player who is suppose to lead the team. Many have advice for what Manziel should do, from Brady Quinn all the way down to star CB Joe Haden. Interestingly Haden showed little concern for Manziel’s actual behavior and just advised that he should basically have someone hold all cell phones whenever they are hanging out. Keeping pictures and videos out of the public’s eye.

What all of the Manziel stuff has shown is that people, specifically Browns fans in this case, love to want something new and exciting. They want the QB who could change the franchise. They want the sports car, the boat, the jet skis and the newest gaming station. Yet when they experience the new and realize not only is it new but it is also different they pull back. “Well I wanted the sports car, but that gas mileage, those tires and the repairs costs are much to expensive. I can’t even get my 2 kids car seats in the back of the car.” “This boat is great but storage and maintenance costs are killing me. And now all my friends want to go out on it all the time and I feel bad saying no.” “It would be cool to have a pool. Wait they cost how much? I have to build a fence?”

The same thing has happened in different generations of television shows. Shows that were risque 30 years ago are tame today. Shows that were risque when I was growing up are now considered mainstream entertainment. Today’s TV shows cover topics and use language that was never acceptable 10 years ago. Yet many people who wanted new show options then complained when the new shows, with their different presentation, came on the air.

It is the same issue with Manziel. Browns fans want the excitement of Russell Wilson without the backwards hat of Colin Kaepernick and Tony Romo. They want the excitement and running around of Michael Vick without the injuries and turnovers. They want everyone to be Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They wish the Browns had drafted Adrian Peterson but don’t want to think about an offensive line without Joe Thomas.

This is no defense of Manziel, his actions or even saying he could be as successful as any of those quarterbacks. Yet fans, media and teammates who wanted something new at the QB position need to be aware that new doesn’t always mean the same. it often means different. New comes at a cost: opportunity cost, cost of change, cost of risk and the cost of uncomfort.

Yet for a Browns fan base that has watched their team struggle through year after year of subpar, shoddy quarterback play maybe different should be okay. Maybe nothing Manziel does during the off-season will have a bit of impact on his play during the season (barring illegal activity or banned or illegal substances). It is possible that this different is just what the Browns need for the future of their franchise and maybe, just maybe, something that should be embraced by a desperate, passionate and loyal fanbase that only wants to win.

Personal Aside: I’m a counselor so these type of articles are based out of that profession. The question I want to pose to you is “How do you react to change in your life?” If you hate change, try to keep the status quo as much as possible you are like 75% of Americans. Nothing wrong with it but how does it skew the way you view the phenomenon that is Johnny Football?

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