Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine downplayed the latest off-field incident involving Johnny Manziel, characterizing a run-in between the second-year quarterback and a fan hassling him for an autograph as much ado about nothing.
“I have the details of what happened and in my mind it’s a non-story,” he said on Tuesday.
Manziel was involved in a situation with an autograph-seeker while attending the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament in Irving, Texas, over the weekend. The fan allegedly was persistent in his demands for an autograph, and following a purported dig at Manziel’s talent — he allegedly said, “Good luck never starting in the NFL,” according to one of Manziel’s pals — the quarterback said, “What?” before throwing a 32-ounce water bottle in his direction.
No charges were filed related to the incident and Irving public information officer James McLellan had the following to say to ESPN regarding the events that occurred in the pool area at the Four Seasons Hotel, which is part of the property where the tournament was held:
“There was a kid — I’ll call him a kid, he was 18 — at the pool area,” McLellan said. “The kid had been asking [Manziel] for a couple hours for his autograph, and he wouldn’t give it to him.”
“That turned into badgering on the kid’s part, and it reached the point where Johnny Manziel threw a bottle of water at the kid. I don’t know if it hit him. I guess I would say that ramped it up a bit.”
Despite the seemingly endless of-the-field distractions and incidents involving Manziel since the team drafted him, Pettine insists the Browns do not view the incident as a distraction. He also stated that the right — or wrong — circumstances can provoke any person into reacting.
Pettine also said he has spoken to Manziel about the incident but intended to keep those discussions out of the media. Further, Pettine characterized persistent speculation that the organization intends to move on from Manziel as “irresponsible.”
While everything Pettine had to say may in fact be accurate, the Browns cannot continue to endlessly discuss what Manziel has been doing wrong off the field without him accomplishing something right on it. It is an untenable situation that at some point will reach its end game.