No one should be surprised that the Browns are limiting media access to newly drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel at this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
For anyone paying attention, team owner Jimmy Haslam telegraphed the move when he appeared this week at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton.
“Mike Pettine says it very well: ‘Johnny, right now you’re our backup quarterback and you need to act as such,’ ” Haslam said.
Then he added his thoughts about Manziel’s celebrity.
“I think there is a Johnny Football aura out there, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Haslam said. “It is what it is. I think you will find a hard-working, serious guy that doesn’t want to be a three-years-in-the-league flash and out who makes a lot of money on endorsements.”
The Browns are probably doing everything in their power to ensure that Manziel realizes his vast potential.
Anyone who heard Haslam’s speech will conclude that he views Manziel as a huge part of the Browns’ future, but that the quarterback hasn’t earned anything yet.
On that basis, it is completely understandable why the Browns are limiting national media attendance at the minicamp.
There’s really nothing to see, given that it’s little more than workouts and meetings. Even local media members only get to watch the first 15 to 20 minutes of practice before being ushered into Browns headquarters. There’s only one day of access in general.
But to say that no national media will be on hand is a bit disingenuous.
The Associated Press is at all Browns briefings, as is ESPN because they have reporters based in Cleveland.
Fox Sports Ohio also has a writer who makes frequent appearances.
It is understandable why some national members would be upset.
He’s Johnny Football.
The primary criticism is difficult to miss: “If the Browns couldn’t handle the media onslaught, they shouldn’t have drafted him.”
That might be true, but here’s guessing the Browns had little idea that Manziel would fall in their laps at No. 22.
One report had them trying to trade with the Washington Redskins for Kirk Cousins before the draft.
Had they made that trade, Manziel and his larger-than-college-football alter ego would probably be elsewhere right now.
You don’t plan for personalities in two weeks.
With athletes of Manziel’s stature (LeBron James, anyone?), locker room chats often turn into media scrums because of the number of bodies rubbing against one another as writers, bloggers and TV reporters and cameramen fight for a spot to get the recording gear in place to get the perfect shot or intelligible sound bite.
But Manziel is here and the Browns have to deal with the media.
Jimmy Haslam, General Manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine plan to do so on their terms.
Is that bad?
Right now, if you’re a member of the national media, yes.
But it won’t last. Reality will come this summer when the crowds descend upon Berea like they haven’t since the Browns returned in 1999.
That’s when the test will begin. The Browns had better be prepared or their previous public-relations missteps will be quickly supplanted.