Cleveland Browns fans vow to have a Johnny-Free February
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns may still be deciding what to do with quarterback Johnny Manziel, but a growing number of fans have already had enough.
The Cleveland Browns face several important questions as the new head coach and management team work their way through the NFL offseason.
One of the biggest questions that the team will be looking to answer is what to do with quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Judged solely on his on-field performance, Manziel would have only a weak case for remaining on the roster, despite his status as a former first-round draft pick. Manziel’s completion percentage is one of the lowest in the league, and his play has been nothing if not inconsistent.
But when you add in all the off-the-field issues — from inflatable swans, to blowing off his rookie season, to lying to the team — the case for Manziel to remain in Cleveland becomes more and more tenuous.
Related: Police question Johnny Manziel after altercation
The latest incident over the weekend, where Manziel was involved in an “incident” with his girlfriend that involved a police helicopter search and is now being investigated by not only the police but the NFL, appears to be the breaking point for many Browns fans.
It is also what led longtime Browns fan Chris McNeil to start a Twitter movement – Johnny-Free February – to rally Browns fans to make a pledge “not to tweet, retweet, or mention Johnny Manziel on Twitter in February or until he is no longer a Cleveland Brown.”
McNeil has been a Browns fan since age 7 and “watched Bernie Kosar lead the Browns back after getting hit late by Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets in a 1986 playoff game. I yelled at fans streaming out of the stadium then, and I have never lost that spirit! I am now passing along that misery/fandom to my kids!”
McNeil was kind enough to sit down with Dawg Pound Daily for a virtual Q&A on the movement.
Dawg Pound Daily: So what is Johnny-Free February?
Chris: Johnny-Free Friday, or #JFF, is a movement aimed to not give attention to Johnny Manziel through February – or until he is no longer a Cleveland Brown. The Simpsons had an episode where the physical advertisements came alive and began destroying the city. The only way to stop them was to “not look” at them. This is a movement to “not look.”
Related: 5 do-overs of the Johnny Manziel selection in 2014
DPD: How does it work?
Chris: Well, #JFF movement members are not to mention JFF on Twitter and are encouraged not to mention him at all in any social media. This lasts throughout February – or until Johnny is no longer a Cleveland Brown.
People Tweet at me with #JFF and I add them to the club, which is a Twitter list.
DPD: How did you come up with the idea and why focus on Manziel?
Chris: It began organically when the concept of not mentioning Manziel came up on Twitter. My daughter, Riley, was with me and she suggested we have a month without Johnny. She is not a big fan and equates him to Justin Bieber. The month also happens to be her birthday, so it also came up as a birthday present not to mention him in the house.
After I committed to it, people starting jumping on board on Twitter. It started with a devoted few, but grew quickly!
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DPD: How has the response been? Is anyone signing up?
Chris: We have grown to more than 1,000 total people signed up. I have more than 750 in the list, and Cleveland Sports Talk signed up another 250 or so. The response has been incredible! The New York Post, the Associated Press, all the local news channels, and various online outlets have all reported on the phenomenon.
DPD: Do you have an ultimate goal in mind with the movement?
Chris: No. I just wanted to clean up my timeline and make my daughter happy. I figure Johnny will be gone anyway — he is not helping my football team.
DPD: What would you like the Browns to do with Manziel – keep him or cut him?
Chris: I wanted to cut him mid-season. It would have been a great way to say that, as an organization, we are not putting up with this type of behavior anymore.
DPD: How do people join?
Chris: Tweet me using #JFF at my Twitter handle: @Reflog_18.
Thanks again to Chris for talking with us. Now it is your turn Browns fans: have you joined the #JFF movement? What do you think the Browns should do with Manziel? Have you say in the comment section.