A billboard in the hometown of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel declares that Tyler, Texas, “is now Cleveland Browns territory.”
A message at the bottom of the sign also expresses displeasure with the Dallas Cowboys for passing on Manziel with the 16th overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft.
“Paid for by former Cowboys fans,” the billboard reads.
The Browns, of course, traded up from No. 26 overall and took Manziel 22nd on May 8.
After the first round of the draft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones conceded that “Manziel was probably the highest player on the board at the time” when the franchise decided to select offensive lineman Zack Martin instead at No. 16. But Jones initially insisted he had no regrets about passing on Manziel because the Cowboys already have so much invested in quarterback Tony Romo.
“It was too significant for him to be an insurance policy,” Jones told reporters when asked about possibly picking Manziel 16th overall. “There's just too much dynamic here for him, for the franchise, for everybody. That's just too much for insurance, and it's not the usual development guy behind an accomplished quarterback. He's a celebrity. He's Elvis Presley.”
Jones, however, backpedaled a month later and admitted it was a hard decision for him to forgo Manziel.
“Well, it was. Yes, it was,” Jones said in a radio interview with ESPN Arkansas. “First of all, I couldn't believe he had fallen there. And secondly, we had spent a lot of time [with him]. I'd spent a lot of time. He's the kind of player that can be that kind of difference maker. There's no doubt in my mind that he'll be a successful player. We have in Romo what I consider to be the better quarterback. But there's also the future. There's also insurance if you don't have him. If anybody could have adjusted to Manziel's style, we could have because we're a lot like that with Romo.”
A photograph of the billboard surfaced online Friday when a woman named Shannon McDaniel posted the picture on Twitter. In a series of subsequent tweets, she explained that her husband was part of a group of Texas A&M and Manziel fans that purchased the billboard ad May 10 during a benefit auction.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph sent a photographer to shoot the billboard and posted another picture of the ad on its website.