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Browns back spotlight-grabbing Manziel

The SportsXchange

BEREA, Ohio -- Where Johnny Manziel goes, the spotlight follows, but head coach Mike Pettine and the Cleveland Browns continue to pledge their support of the fun-loving rookie.

The confident quarterback from Texas A&M spent part of last weekend -- time off for the Browns -- sipping champagne while floating on an inflatable swan in a swimming pool at Club Rio in Austin, Texas, where the "X Games" were staged.

"I would become concerned if it was something criminal and I would be concerned if it affected his job," Pettine said Tuesday after the first day of a three-day minicamp. "I think there are a lot of our guys if when they leave here if they were followed around you'd get some very similar pictures. I don't know about an inflatable swan, but you'd still get some pictures."

Two weeks earlier, while answering questions about a party weekend in Las Vegas that featured photo ops with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and a ringside seat at a Floyd Mayweather fight, Manziel thumbed his nose at critics and said he will "live life to the fullest" when the recess doesn't interfere with football.

"What we don't want is a guy that loves what football does for him and really doesn't love the game. And that's very much not the case with Johnny (Manziel). He absolutely loves football, very competitive," Pettine said.

"He's very difficult on himself, he's a guy that he wants to win every down, and you could tell. He gets very upset when things don't work out. That showed up in his college tape, when there were times when he felt he had to take it on himself to will his team to win. And we understand too that he does love what football has done for him, and in large part I think a lot of us are jealous of what football has done for him. After he wins the Heisman, and the world was kind of laid at his feet."

Teammates had similar comments, the biggest question or concern being Manziel's choice of vessels.

The Browns media relations department is not making Manziel or starting quarterback Brian Hoyer available during the minicamp, reasoning each met with reporters twice during OTAs and earlier minicamps.

"Guys are guys," wide receiver Andrew Hawkins said. "He's a human like everyone else. He's come in here. He works his butt off Monday through Friday. Whatever's asked of him, he does. He's in his playbook. He's coming out on the field. He's working hard. Anything beyond that, it's none of my business."

Manziel showed a deft hand on the field. He threw a deep pass to newcomer Anthony Armstrong, the former speed threat with the Washington Redskins, down the left sideline and hit Armstrong in stride with a pass that traveled about 55 yards in the air.

It is that type of scintillating play that made Manziel a household name, and the skill level that helps coaches and teammates sweep any extracurricular, off-field activity under the rug.

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