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Hall of Famer Joe Namath on Browns' Johnny Manziel: 'He's got to live his life; give him some room'

By Nate Ulrich Published: June 9, 2014

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Hall of Fame quarterback and New York Jets legend Joe Namath appeared on NFL Network’s NFL Total Access tonight and discussed a quarterback who is very much a showman like himself -- Browns rookie Johnny Manziel.

The 22nd overall pick in this year's draft, Manziel has created a stir in his first month with the Browns by, as he puts it, living life to the fullest. He partied in Las Vegas during Memorial Day weekend, met friend and famous rapper Drake at a Los Angeles nightclub the following week and spent this past weekend embarking on a series of adventures in Texas.

Namath shared his thoughts about the attention -- and criticism -- Manziel constantly receives. Below is a transcript from the interview provided by the network.

On if criticism of Manziel is warranted: “What difference does it make, really? And it is an example of the different eras and times. I do know this about Johnny Manziel: I haven't seen anyone perform any better than Johnny the last two seasons on that football field. And I do know that we love entertainment. Football is a sport, but it is show biz. It is entertainment. And Johnny, he's got to live his life; give him some room. I've been to Vegas before; you guys have probably been to Vegas. Give the man a little bit of room. But you see, in his position he's like not entitled to be a regular guy [at] 22 years old or 21 years old. Everything’s blown out of whack. I don't know. I’d love him on my team, let me just say that.” 

On advice he would give to Manziel: “I don't want to get on the wrong side of the media. You know what I’m saying? Never get in a fight with a guy who buys his ink by the barrel. But I would tell Johnny, don't read about yourself. Don’t watch things that have to do with you and the Cleveland Browns. Johnny, you know what you're doing, you know what your team is doing – trust in that. Other people have a tendency to paint us as individuals and the way they see us, or our team and teammates. I’d tell Johnny just go ahead and live his life and make sure he does what's right with his team and society, and he'll be cool. Anything else, watching yourself on TV – that can be tough – or reading about yourself is a focus-breaker.”

On what he likes about Manziel: “Well what sticks out initially is his second, third, fourth effort. The play's never over with this guy. He doesn't give up on a play. Also, he has this innate feeling, sense when people are around him in a crowd, how to move without even looking at them. He insists on trying to make the play work, continue it. He has a quickness that's pretty darn good; pretty good quickness, pretty good. I don't say very good because he's not Chris Johnson, but I mean my man can get outta there. He can change directions, and he's a good passer. Already he's a good passer and he's only going to get better.”

On what it would have been like for him if today’s social media and technology existed when he was playing in the NFL: “I would have had to adjust. No doubt, I wouldn't have been the same guy. I would have probably practiced what I was trying to tell Johnny [Manziel]; you know, kind of stay in the shell to some extent. It would have been different, what can I say? It wouldn't have been the same.”

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