Johnny Manziel defends his choices

ByPat McManamon via ESPN logo
Friday, June 27, 2014

BEREA, Ohio -- Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel said he's tired of being the object of constant attention when he's out and about during his free time.

He also added that he's not changing for anybody.

"I want to wake up with a week and not have my name going through something," he said Friday at the NFL's Play 60 youth clinic at the Cleveland Browns' facility. "And I'm working on getting better at that, but if I want to go back home and spend time with my friends or go out and enjoy my weekends, I absolutely have the right to do that."

Manziel has become a bit of a lightning rod thanks to social media, which has captured him during his weekends away from Cleveland doing things as varied as holding a "money phone" and spraying champagne from an inflatable swan. The regularity of Manziel's weekend soirees prompted Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Joe Montana to weigh in that perhaps Manziel might want to dial things back a bit.

"Nothing that I'm doing on the weekends is affecting my job," he said. "Nothing that I'm doing on the weekends is hopefully hurting any of my teammates in the locker room."

As for the money phone, which showed Manziel holding a stack of cash as a phone, he merely said: "I'm not going to address something that was very far in the past." Asked to elaborate on what that meant, Manziel said: "It was just in the past."

Manziel said his goal is to be the Browns' starting quarterback -- "To say that I don't want to be the starter would be ridiculous" -- but admitted that coach Mike Pettine was correct in saying he's behind Brian Hoyer as the team heads to training camp.

"Brian obviously is ahead," Manziel said. "He's been doing this a lot longer than I have. I'm a rookie, and I have a lot of ground to catch up."

Manziel said the much-discussed situation with his personal life is unique because people want to photograph or video him wherever he goes, and it always makes its way to social media. He said that he respects and heeds the words of the Hall of Famers he grew up admiring but is adamant that he's just having fun.

"I don't think I'm doing anything wrong," he said. "Everybody on the weekends goes out and enjoys their life. Just for them, they don't have people that, when they walk into a place, pull out their phone and all they want to do is follow me around and record everything.

"My situation is unique and different. Now more than ever, I've seen that it's an every-weekend thing. Wherever I'm at, whether it's in Cleveland on a weekend, whether it's in Dallas or anywhere on a weekend, people want to record what I'm doing because they think it's a story."

Manziel said that nobody photographs him studying a playbook or working out and that when they see him it's during his down time, which he said he and his teammates deserve.

"My weekends aren't what I'm doing seven days a week," Manziel said.

"That's two days out of the week, and there's five or six days that I'm here at this building going through my playbook and working out just like every other rookie is."

He also said that he understands his teammates are getting weary of being asked about him because he's just like they are -- at the bottom of the totem pole.

"I'm just like any other rookie out there that they haven't gotten asked about 1,000 times," Manziel said. "More than anything, I think they're tired of that. They're tired of the hype, which I am as well."

Manziel admitted he needs a slightly better understanding of his reality, but he was also defiant.

"I'm not going to change who I am for anybody," he said. "I'm growing up and continuing to learn from my mistakes and trying not to make the same ones over and over again. Am I going to live in a shell? Or am I just going to hide from everybody and not do anything? I don't think that's the way I should live my life. And I'm not going to do it.

"I'm here. I'm very committed to football. I'm committed to my job, and on the weekends I'm going to enjoy my time off."

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