So the Cleveland Browns traded up for Johnny Manziel over the weekend and already have sold more than 1,000 season tickets as a result. But the team is doing its best to contain Johnny Mania when it comes to the media.
According to New York Post's Bat Hubbuch, the team plans to keep Manziel under wraps to the national media and only is opening its rookie minicamp to local writers.
Browns PR director told me: "We don't want this to be a Tebow situation. It's not going to be Johnny Football Mania out there."— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) May 13, 2014
Technically, the Browns can make this call. NFL rules state that the Browns can restrict media access to the rookie minicamps in any way they deem fit, but they must open up access for the mandatory veteran minicamps in June and beyond.
If this is in line with what Browns owner said Monday — that Manziel is a backup QB and should act like one — then fine. But if the Browns are going to put their young quarterback in a bubble and unnecessarily shield him, bad things could happen.
The Washington Redskins took this approach with Robert Griffin III in 2012, sending out alerts to the media for the prescheduled dates on which RG3 would speak over the summer leading up to training camp. The buzz for Griffin was palpable, and the team wanted to limit his duties. Fair enough. But at some point, a quarterback must start developing a few calluses of his own without a PR guy or — worse yet — a teammate having to take a bullet for him when things go wrong.
The Chargers also tried this with Manti Te'o last year, and things calmed down — stunner! — when the team relaxed the limitations and Te'o just became one of the guys. Did you hear any Te'o girlfriend stories after, say, the draft? We don't remember any either.
It's clearly different with quarterbacks. But the point remains the same: We hope the Browns are not trying too hard to deflect attention and protect their young quarterback. He's a tough kid; he told the Browns as much — that he can handle the pressure — before they turned in a draft card with his name on him.
Eventually they must let him.
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