BEREA, Ohio – Johnny Manziel said he’s not sure "wreck this league" is exactly what he texted to Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains during the NFL Draft.
But Manziel said he was definitely hoping the Browns would draft him. They did, eventually, and the rest is an evolving piece of history for a franchise that needs Manziel to be as good as advertised.
For a brief period Saturday, JohnnyCamp — or as the team is calling it, rookie minicamp — was open to media, and after Saturday morning’s practice both Manziel and Browns head coach Mike Pettine addressed the latest stories and issues surrounding Manziel and his first week with the Browns, including the radio interview in which quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains said Manziel sent text messages asking him to draft him and team owner Jimmy Haslam’s comments that the team expected Manziel to "act like a backup."
Pettine and Manziel presented a united front, with Pettine saying Manziel "wanted to be here" and Manziel saying he texted Loggains "hurry up" because he was hearing another team might try to make a trade before the Browns eventually moved to pick No. 22 and selected Manziel.
Loggains had done an interview on Arkansas sports radio this week in which he said Manziel sent texts that said, "Hurry up and draft me" and "I want to wreck this league together." Pettine said the Browns knew of the interview and of Manziel’s interest, adding that the Browns had targeted three players in a potential trade-up scenario during the first round of the draft and that the other two were gone before the Manziel trade was completed.
Pettine said Manziel’s texts "added to the excitement" in the draft room.
Manziel said he wasn’t boasting or making guarantees in his texts, but said he meant he wanted "to come in and try to win some games, not dominate the league as a rookie."
Of measures to quell ManzielMania that included barring the national media from this weekend’s minicamp and allowing just one camera into the post-practice interviews, Pettine said, "We don’t want to rush it. We want to temper it."
The minicamp started Friday. It’s closed to the public, as are all offseason activities, and media was allowed to watch just the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s practice. That included Manziel stretching, handing the ball off and throwing a handful of short passes. A ClevelandBrowns.com writer who watched practice tweeted that Manziel "was zipping the football today."
Manziel said he’s had time for nothing but football since arriving in Cleveland earlier this week, spending all of his time at the hotel that houses the rookies or the team’s facility, where he said "three or four times" he’s shared the quarterback meeting room with Brian Hoyer, with whom he’s expected to compete for the starting job.
"I don’t think I need to be humbled," Manziel said. "I understand where I am in this organization.
"I was passed up 21 times (in the draft)."
With a little prodding and a little bit of draft day luck, a 21-year old who’s a celebrity before ever throwing an NFL pass who carries himself like anything but a backup landed with the Browns.
And the fun is just beginning.
"We’re well aware of the (Johnny Football) persona," Pettine said. "We’re well aware of what it brings. We’re excited about it. It’s something that we’re very willing to have come here, knowing that he has a chance to make us a better football team and a better franchise.
"He knows if he wants to develop and be Johnny Football in the NFL, he has to earn it. I think he knows that is as the end of the tunnel for him, but he still has to travel through that tunnel."