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Friday, May 9, 2014
Browns fans enjoying Manziel mania

By Pat McManamon

Darkness blanketed the evening as reporters straggled out of the Cleveland Browns' facility following the first day of the 2014 NFL draft.

Security lights dotted the building, but there was little activity at 1:35 in the morning.

Across the street from the building stood one solitary man. He wore a Trent Richardson jersey and held a sign, barely visible in the darkness. It read: "Thank you Browns." The gentleman, later identified by NFL Network as Randall Ravis, said nothing as reporters walked by. Ravis spoke for the vast majority of fans energized by the team's drafting of Johnny Manziel.

At this point the Browns might want to extend a thank you as well. From midnight until early morning, the Browns sold 1,500 season tickets.

And, according to coach Mike Pettine, Manziel still has to win a job.

The excitement over this selection will rage for some time. "Here’s Johnny" blared the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s front page. ESPN Cleveland signed off Friday by saying "this is ESPN Johnny Cleveland." Cleveland.com came up with five events Manziel might enjoy in Cleveland (the Rib Cook-Off was first, Cleveland Auto Show third ... yes those were the events). And the ticket line phones kept ringing.

Manziel and forgotten first-round pick Justin Gilbert -- who was, after all, taken ahead of Manziel -- will meet the media today. They will take the field for the first time at a rookie minicamp next weekend. The Browns have closed the minicamp to the media, aside from the first 15 minutes of stretching. Managing the madness will become part of Pettine’s job while Brian Hoyer -- who has done so much right since he joined the Browns -- will try to fight whatever he's feeling about this body blow to his hopes to lead his hometown team.

In the short term, though, Cleveland wants to celebrate, to gush. Johnny Football will play in Cleveland.

It's a city that deserves to smile, that has earned a smile.

Even if it means being that one guy standing outside the Browns' facility at 2 in the morning.