Ten quick takeaways from 15 minutes of rookie minicamp and 10 minutes of talking to Johnny Manziel:
Lost amid the hoopla of the limited access to rookie minicamp this past weekend is the fact that the Browns took pretty good care of the locals. Given this particular offseason activity is totally up to the team, there didn’t have to be any access or interviews. The Browns allowed 15 minutes, but more important allowed interviews with all draft picks who were there, including Manziel. This provided more than enough fodder for discussion and stories. National writers were not allowed in, which rankled some folks, but the locals were.
Also lost is the fact that for the next three weeks league rules mandate that one day a week of offseason practices must be open to all media. The Browns will have a complete, full-team practice open to the media on Wednesday, followed by two more days in the next two weeks and then a full-team minicamp. In hindsight, waiting four days really doesn’t seem like a huge issue.
Folks often ask why national media gets more information than local media. In some cases, it’s because they simply have better sources. In others, it’s because they have a longer relationship with people; they’ve dealt with guys before they came to Cleveland whereas the locals didn’t know the guys in the Browns revolving door until they arrived. In some cases, they have better access; a national name gets a phone call returned when a local might not, or a national writer might be taken upstairs for an interview the day before the draft when a local would not. This time, the locals got the access and the nationals didn’t. Do I think it should have been open to all? Of course. Is it this huge a deal? Not with full access Wednesday.
Watching 15 minutes of stretching and warm-ups reveals little. I’m not ready to say that Manziel stood out stretching his hamstrings or that his swing passes confirmed his draft status. It’s silly to do so. What I will say is it jumped out how short he is. It is noticeable.
But last I checked, Manziel did not get shorter since he was drafted. He’s the same height he was at Texas A&M when he achieved all he did on the field there.
Again, one 10-minute interview is hardly definitive and won’t win any games. But it does paint a little bit of a picture of a guy, and the one Manziel painted was most impressive. There are interviews where a guy says the right things but gives off the wrong feel and interviews where guys say all the wrong things. Manziel said the right things and gave off the aura that he’s an old hand at this and has the right sense of confidence combined with appropriate swagger. He said a lot of really good things the right way.
Among them was his statement that he wanted to earn his keep, that what he did in college didn’t mean a thing. He said he took the instruction to act like a backup in stride and then was asked if he needed to be humbled. “Well, I was passed over 21 times.”
The disrespect/chip on the shoulder routine is one of the oldest, most tired parts of sports. It's like the team meeting you never hear about when a losing streak continues; what about the guys who feel disrespected who don't make it? In a galaxy long ago and far away, Jerry Rice said on a conference call that he was fueled by the negative stories he saw written about him. “What negative stories are ever written about you, Jerry?” was the question asked next. Rice used the perceived slights. If Manziel wants to use being picked 22nd and it works, more power to him.
Listening to Mike Pettine on Saturday makes it evident why he said he had the nickname “Blunt Force Trauma.” He answers questions, and he answers them directly. His comment that he’s not interested in kissing up to the national media because it has been so negative about the Browns was your basic thumb-to-the-nose-and-wag-your-fingers remark: “If there’s something that we feel that we can control that will limit the distractions that this will bring, then we’re going to go ahead and do it. It’s something that I know probably won’t be the most popular thing, especially on a national level, but we also feel that the credibility of the Browns, as far as what stock we have nationally, I don’t think we’re very highly thought of given the recent history of the team, so it’s not really something we’re interested in playing into.”
So Manziel’s number is 2 and has been for some time. And the Browns traded up to take him at 22. Just thought I’d point that out, for those inclined to believe in coincidences.