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Storin: Slippery slope for Johnny Manziel and Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel throws a pass during an NFL football Play 60 youth event at the Cleveland Browns practice facility Friday in Berea, Ohio. The AFC rookies took part in the NFL's annual Rookie Symposium.
Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel throws a pass during an NFL football Play 60 youth event at the Cleveland Browns practice facility Friday in Berea, Ohio. The AFC rookies took part in the NFL's annual Rookie Symposium. The Associated Press

Two seasons ago while Johnny Manziel was en route to becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy he became known as Johnny Football.

Now as Manziel is less than a month from his first rookie camp as a member of the Cleveland Browns, the quarterback is building a reputation as Johnny Party Boy.

This is a slippery slope for the 22nd pick in the NFL draft. There were already concerns about his size (5 feet, 11 inches) and whether his playing style (tendency to scramble too soon) would work in the NFL.

Since he was drafted May 8, Manziel has become the darling of social media as he partied in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

First it was a Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas where he joined Boston Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, a noted free spirit.

The pair were pictured on Manziel's Instagram page along with a group of other young people.

Manziel also tweeted a photo of himself at a UFC fight, and a young woman posted a photo of herself and Johnny.

No big deal said Browns coach Mike Pettine. "We're not going to micromanage our players."

But then a couple of weekends ago a video on an Instagram account got the attention of Browns owner Jim Haslam. It depicted an apparently "buzzed" Manziel, barely able to keep his eyes open, pretending a wad of cash was a cell phone.

"I can't hear you, I have too much money in my (bleeping) hand," Manziel shouts.

This did not sit well with Haslam and according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the owner instructed his staff to have a talk with his quarterback about toning down his social media act.

A few days later Manziel responded. "I don't think I'm doing anything wrong. I am not going to change for anybody.

"I'm going out. Everybody goes out on weekends and enjoys their life and they don't have people that when they walk into a place pull out their phones and all they want to do is follow me around and record everything. So my situation is unique."

That "unique" situation popped up again Monday when Manziel sent tweets of a party at the home of pop star Justin Bieber. Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and R&B singer Tyrese were also pictured.

To add to the show, Beverly Hills police were called to Bieber's residence because of complains over loud music. Twice.

Manziel insists he is committed to football and says he expects to win the starting QB job.

"I absolutely want to start," he says, "that's my goal."

His primary on field obstacle is Brian Hoyer, the latest of 20 quarterbacks the Browns have employed unsuccessfully since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999.

Manziel comes into the league with mixed reviews.

On one side, is Ron Jawroski of ESPN, a former pro quarterback who said before the draft that he wouldn't take him until the fourth round.

"He has not done a whole lot for me," Jaws said.

Then there is quarterback guru George Whitfield whose pupils include Indy's Andrew Luck, Pittsburgh's Ben Rothlisberger and Carolina's Cam Newton.

Whitfield says Manziel has "the best antenna in sports -- the awareness, the feel, the short area quickness. He's special -- quick thinking, quick eyes and big hands." And adds that his badboy image is overblown.

"You can't wake up, get out of bed, and do what he's done the last two years (at Texas A&M) if he wasn't all about football."

I'm rooting for Manziel to make it in the same way I rooted for Doug Flutie. There is something about feisty "Little Guys" that earn my favor. We runts stick together.

One thing for sure, Manziel will enter the NFL preseason as the most talked about rookie of 2014.

And you can bet that owner Haslam and coach Pettine can't wait to get him into the Browns training camp and off the party circuit on weekends.

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