May 26, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) during organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel spoke to the media Wednesday and said he is ready to put the Money Manziel persona behind him.
“The money sign will not be back. I will not be making it out there,” Manziel said according to published reports. “I was a little bit of a distraction (last year and) I feel bad about that today. I feel bad about that throughout the last months of my life, really thinking back and seeing how much of my life outside of this field and outside of this locker room is documented. It’s not fair for Joe Haden to be having to answer questions about me every day. It’s not fair for Joe Thomas and all these guys to just continue to have questions asked about me. I don’t think that’s fair at all and I don’t want that on them.
“Last year was, in my mind, for me personally, a disaster. I didn’t come out and perform, and that’s what it comes down to. I think it’s even my fault. The way that I’ve built myself up, I set myself up for a little bit of failure in that regard.”
We’ve never thought Manziel was a bad person and we’re glad he is working to get his life in order. But we’ve also heard him say that he is going to take things more seriously before – he said it at the end of the 2014 season and again after he came out of a 10-week stay in a rehabilitation facility.
So while Manziel can say all the right things, and show his coaches and teammates that he is taking the game seriously, the true test is going to come at the end of this week’s three-day minicamp. Following Thursday’s final practice, the players will have about five weeks all to themselves prior to the start of training camp in July, a large block of free time where trouble could easily find Manziel.
“I think at times Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit too, and I bought into that. … I think I didn’t do my best to hush things down, push down the hype.” – Johnny Manziel
That fact is not lost on the Browns.
“People either want (Manziel) to succeed in a big way or want him to fail in a big way,” Pettine told ESPN after the first day of practice. “That adds to the pressure that he’s under. Any NFL player has that pressure, and when you come into the league with the reputation that he had and go through what he went through, that’s going to happen.”
Publicly the Browns have been supportive of Manziel. They certainly don’t appear to be coddling him, but they also don’t seem ready to “move on” from his as some have reported, at least if quarterback coach Kevin O’Connell is to be believed.
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“My thoughts on Johnny have not changed,” O’Connell said during the team’s recent Organized Team Activities. “I thought very highly of him when I got a chance to work with him before the draft. We spent a lot of time in the classroom obviously talking about the NFL game from a defensive perspective as well getting ready to play the hardest position there is really and how he would transition to that. We’re still talking about a guy that’s in his second year now.
“Having been through it, obviously, getting some starts last year will help him. But I can tell you from the first time I met Johnny until now, I still see the same competitive guy that comes into work every day to get better and that’s all we can really ask of him right now, and he’s really responded to what we have asked of him.”
In his brief time in Cleveland Manziel has shown the ability to always say the right thing.
These next few weeks will reveal if he now also has the ability to do the right thing as well.