Column: Manziel not in the wrong

Kunal Patel

One would have imagined that now that the NFL Draft has passed, the dust would finally settle and the media would stop highlighting Johnny Manziel’s every step.

Well, think again.

The 21-year-old rookie quarterback of the Cleveland Browns can’t catch a break. Since being drafted, the negative press has only escalated for the former Aggie.

Small things like Manziel wearing Nike slippers in a rookie photo shoot led to incredible backlash on Twitter. People interpreted it as Manziel not being interested or caring about Cleveland’s rookie photo shoot.

Another huge headline came when the Browns’ front office named Manziel as the backup quarterback heading into training camp this season. And another when rumors swirled about the possibility of A&M’s beloved Kyle Field being renamed “The House that Johnny built.” None of these things have made Johnny’s short career in the NFL any easier thus far.

To some extent it’s hard not to feel bad for Johnny Football. As an undersized pro prospect his play on the field has been highly scrutinized, and now the media is watching his every move off the field, looking for something to put on the front page.

Most recently, Manziel was scrutinized for his decision to spend a weekend in Las Vegas. Many have questioned the timing of the trip, saying that he should be more concerned with winning over the starting position instead of partying with NFL star Rob Gronkowski.

Of course, naysayers will jump on any opportunity to critique Manziel, but if you ask his coach, he’s doing everything they ask of him.

“The playbook has not been an issue for him,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said. “I told him to have fun. He’s a young guy.”

Pettine makes a good point. Manziel deserves a chance to prove himself as a professional football player before we jump to criticize him.

Should he really be blamed for his behavior this far? Ask any 21-year-old what they would do with millions of dollars and all the fame and they would probably handle it similarly, if not worse.

It’s difficult to have everything you do magnified in the national spotlight. But if he’s keeping up with the playbook and working to move up the depth chart, then he deserves a chance to enjoy himself.