Manziel: I do what I want
CLEVELAND – It’s back to normal for Johnny Manziel.
No pool parties with bikini-clad women. No glitzy casinos with the incessant sound of slot machines chirping 24/7 in the background.
Life for Manziel in Cleveland is football practice, a shuttle ride to the team hotel and maybe a visit to a Chipotle. He’s yet to find time to check out the nightlife in downtown Cleveland.
Talk about a boring lifestyle. It’s nothing like the scene Manziel dove head first into last week in Las Vegas, where he was a guest at a party hosted by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Photos of Manziel partying it up had social media humming last weekend. Critics lined up to question his decision to draw attention to himself in such an obvious way during a break in the Browns’ OTA practices.
Manziel spoke to that criticism after practice Wednesday. In a nutshell, he said that he wants to enjoy life and isn’t concerned about what people think.
“I don’t live my life according to you guys or what other people think of me,” Manziel said.
“I’m going to live my life to the fullest and continue to be committed to this game and to what I need to be doing here and trying to earn my place in this locker room
“If I want to go out and have some fun and it doesn’t hinder what my main goals in life are, then I really don’t care what anyone has to say.”
That thinking might change if he’s told to tone down his act by Browns coach Mike Pettine or owner Jimmy Haslam. For now, Pettine is supportive of Manziel. Pettine pointed out that several other players left town for the Memorial Day weekend, and no one cared
“We have a saying in the NFL – as long as it doesn’t affect your job,” Pettine said. “He’s a guy that was proactive. He let us know that he was going, and my advice to him was have fun. He’s done everything that we’ve asked. The playbook has not been an issue for him.
“I know a big deal was made of it. We have an expectation for all of our players to act a certain way outside of the building. It’s really a non-issue. He’s like anyone else. He’s a man, and we’re going to treat our guys like that until they prove they need to be treated otherwise.”
The only surprising element of the Vegas fallout is Manziel’s surprise that so much was made of it in all forms of media. As the country’s most talked about athlete, he had to know the combination of Las Vegas, parties, young women and cameras would spin out something that couldn’t be controlled. This was no mole hill being turned into a mountain.
No matter what Manziel does – here, in his home state of Texas or in Vegas – he will be followed. He’s the only athlete capable of putting the Kim-and-Kayne wedding on the back burner.
“I’m really used to it,” Manziel said. “It’s been life for so long now I really wouldn’t know what it would be like any other way. I can’t remember back to the days of how it was when I didn’t have people tweeting and taking pictures of wherever I was.
“I don’t mean that in a way to have a big head. It’s just how things go. For some reason, wherever I go, people want to take pictures. They think I’m doing something wild when I’m just living a normal life.”
The free-spirited side of Manziel probably isn’t going away until the constraints of training camp and the regular season will all but bind him to the team facility. The important thing is for him to remember his place on the roster.
“Right now I really haven’t done anything at this level,” Manziel said. “I haven’t done anything to establish myself or to create this type of buzz.
“I’m just a rookie. Yeah, Heisman Trophy and did some things in college. For me, I’m trying to accept the buzz for what it was kind of like in college, even though I haven’t done anything here.”
If Manziel maintains that attitude around his teammates, there shouldn’t be a problem.