This year's rookie draft class is taking part in the NFL Rookie Symposium this week, and on Friday, the AFC rookies were at the Cleveland Browns headquarters in Berea for a Play 60 kids event. That also meant media access to QB Johnny Manziel. If you recall, a few weeks ago, the Browns said they were not making Manziel or Brian Hoyer available to the media until training camp. What happened? Well, since this is an NFL event and not a Browns event, the interview was granted by the NFL, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
Around the same time that Manziel was interviewed, Chris Mortensen of ESPN said that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was not pleased with the social media incidents surrounding Manziel, and that the team has told him to cool it:
Chris Mortensen said #Browns have talked to Manziel about 'toning it down.' J. Haslam was 'bothered' by some of his actions on social media.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) June 27, 2014
More from @mortreport on Manziel, via NFL Insiders. "He's been told to cool it. He's been told to tone it down."— Evan Silva (@evansilva) June 27, 2014
I don't know if you can hold that as being true, as it conflicts with the attitude that head coach Mike Pettine presented over the past couple of weeks. Manziel also denied that he's been reprimanded by the Browns. Nonetheless, at the Rookie Symposium, Manziel defended himself. From the ABJ:
"Just because of what’s reported in the media or what’s getting out on social media doesn’t mean that’s all I’m doing in my life. My weekends aren’t what I’m doing seven days a week. That’s two days out of the week and there’s five to six other days when I’m here at this building going through my playbook and working out just like every other rookie is, so nothing that I’m doing on the weekends is affecting my job. Nothing on the weekends that I’m doing is hopefully hurting any of my teammates in the locker room.
However, Manziel pointed out that the nonstop questions about his behavior are wearing on his teammates. "I think they’re tired of that. They’re tired of the hype, which I am as well. So I’m sitting there seeing these things, and I’m tired of it as well. I want to wake up one week and not have my name going through something, and I’m working on getting better at that. But if I want to go home and spend time with my friends or go out and enjoy my weekends, I absolutely have the right to do that. We’re going to get a little bit of a break here [before training camp], and I’m going to still continue to work out and do the things I need to do and hopefully not let that come between me and my teammates."
Browns rookie running back Terrance West said that he wishes all of the questions about Manziel would stop, because it's a distraction. He didn't pin the blame on Manziel, though, and instead asked why the media wasn't focusing on "the good," which his work with the kids at the Play 60 event. In a video on NFL.com, West jokingly tried to introduce himself to the kids as Manziel, as Johnny Football passes by next to him.
In other Browns rookie news, Joel Bitonio wasn't participating in the event, but the media saw him briefly around lunch time. As they saw him, they shouted from a distance, "WHAT DO YOU THINK OF JOHNNY MANZIEL!?!" (only kidding about that last part).
#Browns G Joel Bitonio surfaced for lunch after youth FB clinic. Said he'll be ready for start of training camp. Has sprained ankle.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) June 27, 2014
Cornerback Justin Gilbert was also at the event:
Johnny Football, with Justin Gilbert here, says he works hard, & enjoys himself. Not gonna live in a shell pic.twitter.com/zKGQryrsiu— john telich (@JohnTelich8) June 27, 2014