Day 2 of the Johnny Manziel redemption tour did not include the Cleveland Browns quarterback speaking with the media. Instead, it was other members of the Browns talking Johnny Football with reporters, and one thing was hammered home two days into the team’s voluntary offseason workouts:
Manziel has a home in Cleveland for the time being.
ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen dropped an apparent bombshell when he suggested that the Browns had “90 percent given up” on Manziel, who was a flop in his rookie season. Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine was asked about that story while he was meeting with reporters on Tuesday, and Pettine, per May Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, did not seem amused:
Pettine, who had a positive relationship with Manziel in 2014 even if the head coach was disappointed with the actions of his quarterback, had nothing but positive things to say about the former Heisman Trophy winner on Tuesday. Donte Whitner, the Pro Bowl safety who is from Cleveland, also praised the second-year pro when appearing on radio program Cleveland Browns Daily.
Browns defensive captain Joe Haden became fast friends with Manziel after the quarterback was drafted by the Browns on May 8. The two were seen out on the town on multiple occasions, including at Cleveland Cavaliers games. It is thus not much of a surprise that Haden, who publicly backed Manziel while speaking to the press during Super Bowl week, remains in the quarterback’s corner regardless of all that has occurred over the past year. Haden, during his time with the press on Tuesday, talked about how Manziel spent three extra hours at the Browns team facility on Monday, and the All-Pro cornerback also said that he feels bad that Manziel receives so much criticism even if the QB brings some of that on himself. Haden also said that he “knows 1,000%” that Manziel can win and also that the 22-year old is motivated.
Manziel’s rough first year in the National Football League was followed by a stint in rehab that lasted from January 28 up through April 11. His reasoning for entering a treatment facility remains a question, although the speculation is that it had to do with alcohol dependency issues. Manziel has, since leaving treatment, been seen as baseball and basketball games, and some within the local and national media have criticized Manziel for attending this past Sunday’s playoff game involving the Cavs and Boston Celtics.
Cleveland superstar LeBron James had no problem with it, as it was James who supplied the front-row tickets. “He’s our guest, he’s part of the family,” James told reporters on Tuesday. Manziel attended Sunday’s game with friends and business partners of James. Whether or not the quarterback will attend Tuesday’s Celtics at Cavs affair was not known as of the posting of this piece.
One of the biggest misconceptions put out there by some within the local Cleveland media is that Manziel does not have many friends inside of the locker room of the Browns. That is not at all the case. Manziel has supporters among his head coach and among teammates, although he is going to have to prove himself in workouts, inside of the classroom when such segments occur, during training camp and during preseason play.
The journey for Manziel and the Browns continues.
More: Manziel returns
Zac has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and National Football League for a variety of websites since 2006. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.