Manziel domestic incident being investigated by NFL
BEREA, Ohio — Johnny Manziel’s in-car argument with his girlfriend could lead to punishment from the NFL.
Browns coach Mike Pettine said the league plans to investigate the high-profile backup quarterback’s domestic dispute last week, an altercation which raised new concerns about Manziel and his future with the club.
Manziel was questioned by police in Avon, Ohio, after his girlfriend claimed he was physical with her when the two had a heated disagreement while driving on an Interstate highway. Colleen Crowley can be heard telling police on a dash-cam video released Monday that Manziel "hit me a couple times" and "I’m in fear for my life."
Manziel was not arrested and Crowley did not press charges. The couple was allowed to leave the scene together and Friday both went on social media to downplay their disagreement.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy said Manziel’s situation will be reviewed.
"It is standard procedure to look into any incident that is a potential violation of our personal conduct policy," McCarthy said in an email.
Pettine did not have a timetable on the league’s inquiry.
According to the police report, Crowley was intoxicated and made inconsistent statements about Manziel’s actions. The couple were interviewed by police along the roadside after witnesses said Manziel had driven at high speed on the shoulder of Interstate 90 and cut across several lanes to an exit.
The couple said they had been drinking alcohol earlier in the day. According to the police report, an officer determined Manziel was not intoxicated and "had consumed only two alcoholic drinks several hours prior."
Following his rocky rookie season, Manziel checked himself into a Pennsylvania rehab facility and spent 70 days receiving treatment for an unknown condition. It’s not known if he is in the league’s substance-abuse program. If he is and if he violated any conditions, Manziel could face additional fines or suspensions.
Pettine would not comment on Manziel’s after-care program, saying only that "it’s private."
Pettine began his Monday news conference, normally reserved for wrapping up the previous day’s game, by addressing Manziel’s situation. Pettine said the 22-year-old quarterback was active for Sunday’s game because the team was satisfied with its investigation into the incident.
Pettine also disputed the notion the team gave Manziel a free pass by having him available to play.
"We’ve dealt with it, it’s not like we ignored it," Pettine said. "Until we had all the information from the police and when the league concludes their report we’ll have a more total picture of what happened. But given the details that we had, we made our decision based on the details we had in hand."
In his second season with Cleveland, Pettine bristled at the idea that there is no accountability with his players for their actions.
"I’m not of the mind that all discipline has to be public," Pettine said. "If you think we’re turning a cheek to it and ignoring it, you’d be dead wrong. I get the concern and I get the outcry and I know everything with him is magnified times a thousand. He’s made a lot of strides and this is a process for him and I know it’s something that is upsetting.
"It’s upsetting for all of us."
Pettine would not say if the Browns have considered trading Manziel, a first-round draft pick in 2014.
Manziel’s latest misstep has led to some strong opinions about what the Browns should do with Manziel. Former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher believes the team should cut Manziel.
"I understand what’s out there," Pettine said. "But I’m not going to get into the aftermath of this. We’re in the process of dealing with it internally and once the league is involved, we’ll make our appropriate decisions from there."
On the dash-cam video, Manziel explains to an officer what led to his dispute with Crowley. He said she flung his wallet out the window of his car and he and an officer can be seen looking for it in tall brush along the road.
Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby said Manziel has not become a distraction to the team and he sympathizes with him living in the spotlight.
"Right now he’s just a prisoner of his success," Dansby said. "If you’re going to be successful like you are and on a level that you’re on, any little thing and everything is scrutinized. You’re up under a microscope, you gotta walk a different path."
Dansby said Manziel has his support.
"You can’t turn your back on him. We’re not going to turn our back on him," he said. "We’re going to support him. We’re going to be there to lift him up when people try to tear him down. We’ve got his back."