It was revealed this week by Cleveland Browns quarterback coach Dowell Loggains that quarterback Johnny Manziel urged the team to select him via text when he was falling in the draft. Contact between players and teams is nothing new during the draft process and on draft night, but this is different in that it seemed to sway what the Browns would do in the draft. It almost seemed inevitable that Johnny Football would end up as a Brown and he may have sealed his own fate as a Brown on draft night with a few timely texts.
Johnny Manziel was no doubt one of the biggest names in this year’s NFL draft, and any team that drafted him was sure to be bombarded with media coverage. For some teams, this could have been seen as a major distraction and a reason to avoid Manziel, even if they believed in his talent. However, for the Browns, Manziel represented a great talent whose celebrity could reinvigorate a fan base that has not had much to celebrate in recent years. But with all that said, should the Browns really have let a rookie who may not even start this upcoming season dictate where and if they should draft him?
The Browns clearly saw a player who was excited to play for their organization at a position of giant need for their team. In the texts Manziel said to Loggains “Hurry up and come draft me,” he continued, “I want to be there.” And finally, “I want to wreck this league together.” While this does show Manziel’s desire to play for the Browns, it also showed the mental makeup of an extremely arrogant player. The fact that he could not be patient and wait to see where he fell reaffirms what some scouts saw in him as immaturity. No one can fault him for wanting to be in a specific situation and voicing that opinion to the team. However, in these texts it seems he is more worried about him falling in the first round of the draft and trying to change that, rather than seeing that the Browns were trying to improve their team dramatically by adding more picks and value in those picks by moving down in the order.
While drafting Manziel might end up being a great decision for the Browns, the way they have dealt with the media surrounding it does not make them look like a stable NFL organization. A story released right after the draft said that Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam was not sure about Manziel until a homeless man in Cleveland told him to “draft Manziel.” Haslam has said since that he was not involved in the draft process at all and let his executives have full power in the process. But with that story, and now the story of Manziel basically dictating to the team where to take him in the draft, it seems as if the Browns cannot get out of their own way when it comes to the media. These stories are not necessarily a bad thing in terms of running your team, but the fact that these stories are getting released to the media is a big negative. NFL teams are very secretive about what they do and why, but it seems the Browns are not this way and it could be part of the reason for their lack of success in recent years.
Johnny Manziel is an interesting case for the NFL. zhis talent and play making ability at the college level was undeniable, but just how much that translates to the NFL has yet to be seen. Whether or not he is the star the Browns are hoping for, he will always be an enormous media story. The Manziel situation could turn into a giant distraction or bring coverage to a team that has desperately needed some attention lately.
Johnny Manziel will continue to be one of the most polarizing storylines in the NFL no matter what he does. The news that he urged the Browns to draft him via text on draft night is another example of that. Manziel seems to walk a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but that confidence could be just the trait that makes him a success in the NFL. Only time will tell.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius