This past Thursday, Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains was interviewed on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly on ESPN Arkansas. You can listen to the full interview here, or read all of the quotes that I transcribed below.
The interview made national headlines because of one of the answers that Loggains gave about the team drafting QB Johnny Manziel. Loggains said that he and Manziel had been texting during the draft, and Manziel texted, "I wish you guys would come get me." Then, Loggains said he forwarded the text message to Mike Pettine and Jimmy Haslam, and that the owner responded, "pull the trigger, we're going up to get this guy!"
With that quote, the national media ran with their stories -- "so it was Haslam who controlled the pick, not Ray Farmer!" Never mind the fact that the context of everything else Loggains had said was ignored. What about the fact that Loggains said the team tried to make trades with the Titans (to get ahead of the Rams) and the Cowboys (to get ahead of the Chiefs)?
The asking price for both picks was too much, but they found the right suitor at No. 22 in the Eagles. Clearly, Farmer is the guy trying to work all of those deals (and the reason why Loggains would not be bothering him with text messages). My guess is that once Farmer informed the draft room of the offer on the table with the Eagles [to then draft Manziel], Haslam simply offered a confirmation of, "go for it -- Manziel is ours!"
The rest of Loggains' interview gives some good insights of the behind-the-scenes draft process, so give it a read below:
Host: "Where were you during the draft?"
Loggains: "In my office in Cleveland."
Host: "Did you know when you guys were going to take Johnny Manziel at that time, as it's unfolding?"
Loggains: "Mr. Haslam and Coach Pettine had called me down to the draft room a couple of times. Throughout the night, we almost made trades with Tennessee and Dallas and backed out, so I knew that Johnny was definitely very high on our board and was in the discussion in the weeks leading up to the draft. I knew if he was there at some point, we were going to take him, or move up to go get him."
Host: "You're in your office, they are in the draft room. Is it like a cone of secrecy in that draft room?"
Loggains: "No, not at all -- we are in and out of there the whole time. What happens is they get it down to either, 'hey, we're going to take a quarterback or a wide receiver here, so go get Dowell and the receivers coach and talk through the scenario.' It's not right when your pick is up -- this stuff starts happening when you are 6-7 picks out, which is 45 minutes of the draft. You're going through all of the scenarios -- if a team takes him, then we'll take him. It's not a cone of secrecy whatsoever. We were very involved."
Host: "When did you know for sure that you guys were going to pick him?"
Loggains: "As soon as I took this job in Cleveland, I knew that the owner liked Johnny a lot. When I got here and went through the whole process, I think I worked out 14 quarterbacks -- I went to their schools or high schools and worked them out. I'd eat dinner with them the night before, worked them out, spent time in the classroom with them, and brought them to Cleveland. Once we had finished all of our evaluations, it was Johnny's name at the top of the list, and then there was everyone else. I knew we needed a quarterback and we were very high on Johnny."
Host: "As far as the picks go, when did you know, 'ok, we're going to be able to get this done?'"
Loggains: "We were sitting there and Coach Pettine was texting me. We were going back and forth, and we're going through [haten?] -- 'Will Dallas take him here? No, they won't.' There is St. Louis at 13. We knew we had to get in front of the Chiefs -- so we knew when they were drafting. Pettine texted me and said, 'we're making the trade -- we're moving up.' At that point, I knew. I was summoned to the draft room to get on the phone with him to tell him he was going to be a Cleveland Brown."
Host: "It's kind of a crazy spot for any of those guys to be in. For some of those guys, the camera is always on them, particularly if you've been a standout player and a star. To sit there and just wait -- we all have these nervous habits. That's got to be an incredibly awkward position, and then you know you can change all of that for him."
Loggains: "This is one of those interesting stories about the draft. We're sitting there, and they keep showing Johnny on TV, and Johnny and I are texting back and forth. He sent me a text saying, 'I wish you guys would come get me. ... Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there and I want to wreck this league together.' When I got that text, I forwarded it to the owner and the head coach. I'm like, 'this guy wants to be here, he wants to be a part of it.' As soon as that happened, Mr. Haslam said, 'pull the trigger, we're going up to get this guy.'"
Host: "So he was texting you saying, 'come on, let's do this?'"
Loggains: "Yeah, and it just shows you want type of competitor the kid is. I got to spend so much time with him leading up to this process, so I feel like I know him very well and have a good relationship, and that's the type of guy this kid is. He wants to do well, he's got a chip on his shoulder, and he's excited to be a Brown."
Host: "Do you think winning the Heisman prepared him for all that he'll face now in the NFL?"
Loggains: "I think it did. Already, he's got the leading jersey seller on NFL.com, in front of guys like Brady, Manning, and Brees. This guy comes with a celebrity status like no other. I was part of the contingency that drafted Vince Young, and this guy is bigger than that. He's 'Johnny Football' and everything that comes with it. I think that going through these processes has really helped him. I think he's learned how to say, 'no.' There's so many things that you get dragged in to and asked about in your circle; I think the best thing that could have happened to him is to go through that stuff now instead of later."
Host: "What does he have to do to be a good teammate at this point?"
Loggains: "So far, we've only had him here since Monday and he's been a great teammate. He's been very quiet around the veterans. He just works hard and wants to show these veterans that he is all-in to help this program win, whether it be as the starter or the backup. Everyone's intrigued by him anyway because of who he is, but they just want to see that you work. Once you work, then you become part of the team and they'll embrace you. But you have to show these guys that you're going to work. In the NFL, it's not a nine to five job, it's an everyday job and it's 12-14 hours a day. He's been out here grinding in the meetings, and we just got out of another meeting -- his third one today. I think that's just the big part of it -- showing these guys how much football means to you."
Host: "What's he got to get better at to actually take snaps for you and go play?"
Loggains: "I think we could throw him out there right now and I think he's going to be one of the most exciting players in the NFL, running around and making plays like we all saw him do at Texas A&M. But there are some things fundamentally -- he needs to become more comfortable in the pocket, needs to learn to play under center. He spent a lot of time this offseason working with George Whitfield in California on some fundamentals. There's some other things he needs to work on, but mainly playing in the pocket and being able to win on third down throwing the football."