By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Johnny Manziel would love to stay in his home state of Texas and become the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans.
But if he lasted until the Browns' pick at No. 4 -- or if the Browns made a move up to take the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner on May 8 -- Manziel would not be disappointed, he said.
In fact, in a visit with reporters from the Houston Chronicle and the Forth Worth Star-Telegram in San Diego, where Manziel is training for the pre-draft gauntlet, Manziel revealed a surprising knowledge of the Browns.
“If something happens, and it’s the Cleveland Browns, I’m going to pour my heart out for the Dawg Pound and try to win a Super Bowl for Cleveland,” Manziel said to reporters John McClain of the Chronicle and Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram. “I don’t care if they’ve had 20 starting quarterbacks since 1999. I’m going to be the 21st and the guy that brought them the Super Bowl.”
McClain later asked Erik Burkhardt, Manziel’s agent, if he prepped Manziel on the number of Browns QBs to start an NFL game, and Burkhardt said no.
Manziel has been training in San Diego for several weeks with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., who has tutored Manziel for three years. Besides improving on mechanics and fundamentals, Manziel is determined to dispel his “Johnny Football” image with NFL interviewers at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, which begins on Feb. 20.
“I was a kid who made some goofball decisions,”Manziel is quoted in the Chronicle and Star-Telegram stories. “That’s been part of my journey. Maybe it’s part of the whole Johnny Football deal that I’m trying to get away from. I’m trying to show people I’ve grown up, and I’ve learned from my experiences. I feel like you’re a stupid person if you continue to make the same wrong decisions.
“I don’t want to hear, ‘Oh, anybody in his situation would have been doing the same thing.’ I’m 100 percent responsible for my actions.
“Johnny Football is the stuff you see on TMZ. There’s part of that folktale that goes along with it and tries to twist me into somebody I’m not all the time. I feel like now there’s kind of like this frozen food package – a pre-wrapped, pre-cooked package of who I am.
“Johnny Manziel is the guy that -- whether it’s Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland or Oakland – you’ll have to drag off that field before I stop playing for those guys. Those are my teammates. Those are my brothers from now on. I’m going to fight until there’s no time left on the clock. That’s Johnny Manziel.”
Manziel thrust himself into the college football limelight as a redshirt freshman at Texas A&M in the 2012 season, when he engineered an upset victory at No. 1-ranked Alabama. Manziel proceeded to become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
Manziel’s second season did not fare as well team-wise, but his individual statistics were better. In two seasons, he wound up with 7,820 passing yards and 63 touchdowns vs. 22 interceptions playing most of his games in the high-caliber Southeastern Conference.
In a comment not included in the stories, Manziel revealed an appreciation of the Browns.
“They have talent on their team, and they’re guys who wanted to go out and fight and they’re not content with just being in the NFL and making millions of dollars,” Manziel told McClain and Williams. “They want to win. They’re tired of the stereotype of Cleveland being losers. I can see that. You can see (them) play with a lot of heart.”
Manziel will join the other highly-rated quarterbacks in the May 8 draft, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Blake Bortles of Central Florida, at the NFL Combine in I next week. Four of the top five teams in the first round draft order are in the market for a quarterback -- 1. Houston, 3. Jacksonville, 4. Cleveland and 5. Oakland. No. 2 St. Louis is not anticipated to look at quarterbacks and may be willing to trade down.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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