Manziel mania officially hits Cleveland
MAY 09, 2014 9:26p ET
Lights, cameras, scrutiny. Twenty-four and seven, too.
They're in this together.
The Browns formally introduced Manziel -- and the guy who went 14 picks ahead of him in Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft, cornerback Justin Gilbert -- to an overflow crowd in the media center at the team's headquarters. A couple of hours earlier, fans who gathered outside the gates greeted Manziel's arrival with chants of "Super Bowl"
Of course they did.
Inside, Johnny Football talked football. Or, at least he tried.
Stuffed into a suit with a Browns hat covering his head, Manziel and the Browns came to realize what the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner has known for more than a year now. There's no disguise that can keep him from being known; no question he hasn't heard or answered.
"It's been my life for a while now," Manziel said. "For me, the spotlight, expectations, everything that comes along with that, I was used to that at Texas A&M, and I think that directly helps me and what I'm getting into moving forward. The NFL and the way the league is and how big of a deal it is, it's bigger than I'm sure I know. I'll find out, but I think that I've been prepared by the past. It'll help me moving forward."
Most of the questions are about Party Johnny. They started pretty much right away on Friday.
On the photos that surfaced Friday of Manziel drinking champagne in New York City late Thursday night (or, probably, early Friday morning): "I'm 21 years old," Manziel said.
"I'm going into this expecting (the scrutiny) to be multiplied," Manziel said. "I'm expecting it to be bigger. If it's less, then good. I don't think it could be more than what I have imagined in my head. I'm going into it expecting madness. If it is, it is; if it's not, we'll handle that in stride."
He's used to being Johnny Football, which is a good thing. And he's a smart kid -- smart guy, actually; he is 21 -- who showed up Friday seeming prepared for every question, football and otherwise.
"Johnny Football is what I am in the media and what is out there, and I accept it," Manziel said. "I'm very accepting of it. At the same time, I know who I am. I'm Johnny Manziel from Kerrville, Texas. I don't let that get to me too much or let all that weigh me down or ever make me lose any sleep at night."
Manziel knows he'll ultimately be judged not on his famous friends -- he was actually asked during the press conference if he could talk LeBron James into returning to Cleveland -- but on how he plays. He knows the Browns and every other team that seriously considered him during the draft process knew all about his celebrity, his celebrity friends and the spotlight he commands.
If the Browns didn't think he'd show up ready to work, they wouldn't have traded up for him Thursday night.
"I think that moving forward I'll need to put in an immense amount of time to be a good as I want to be," Manziel said. "Those off-the-field things, even going back to last year, never cut into my time at Texas A&M or time with my teammates. I think if you ask those guys they know how much I care and how much time I put into trying to make the team as good as possible.
"Going here, there's a gap that I have to close of learning the offense and getting caught up to speed with guys who have the advantage of playing. I'm obviously a rookie, and I need to put an immense amount of time in to be good and I firmly believe that."
Manziel said he knows he comes to the NFL "as the low man on the totem pole" and will act accordingly. He answered a follow-up question to the champagne question by saying he was simply celebrating with his family. As for further adventures, he said "everything else (besides football) is just extra and there's really no time for that right now."
It was the right answer at the right time.
The spotlight is only going to continue to shine. Manziel probably knows that. The Browns certainly know that.
Real football starts at rookie minicamp next week.