If you expected the Manziel story to die down after his draft drama, when he fell to No. 22 and the Cleveland Browns took him, you were dead wrong. The most talked about college player in recent history will experience the same thing well into his NFL career..
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam called Manziel a backup quarterback earlier this week, and now people are weighing in on the meaning of that. Former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herman Edwards told Lindsay Jones of USA Today that the Browns did a disservice to their new quarterback by calling him a backup.
"We don't know he's a backup. Who said he has to be the backup? If you draft a player to be a backup, why did you draft him?" Edwards told USA Today. "You're drafting a guy because you think he's worthy of being drafted at that spot, but you're also drafting him because you think he can compete.
"If you're going to say, 'This guy's a backup,' — really? That doesn't make any sense to me. It just comes off bad. No one wants to hear that. If you're a fan, you're going, 'He's the backup? Why's he the backup?'"
And away we go (by the way, everyone read that with the Herm Edwards voice in their head narrating it, right?).
Haslam, who has admitted he's still learning how to be a NFL owner, likely thought he was doing the right thing. Proclaiming Manziel the backup behind Brian Hoyer would supposedly lessen the heat on Manziel, who will be one of the most fascinating players of the 2014 season. Come on, we all know at the absolute worst Manziel will be starting by midseason, and all of us would bet heavily on him being the man from Week 1 on. It's not unusual for a coach (or owner, I guess) to say that a rookie isn't guaranteed to be a starter and will have to compete for a job, no matter how much of a lie that is. But this is Manziel and even an innocuous and pretty ridiculous comment about him having to compete to be the starter will be picked apart.
The Browns are hoping to lessen the attention by keeping the national media away. They barred national media from attending the Browns' first minicamp, which is a very unusual move, saying they didn't want to turn it into a Tim Tebow situation, in which a rookie quarterback draws dozens of cameras and reporters because of the interest in him. The New York Post's headline to the team barring the national media was, "Browns have already made first mistake with Johnny Football." It's probably true. No matter how the team tries, the attention to Manziel isn't going to stop.
If nothing else, we've already learned that no matter what the Browns do or say about Manziel, even if they're saying something with the specific purpose of calming down the frenzy about the former Heisman winner, it's going to cause yet another mini-controversy that everyone will give their opinion about.
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