BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel said Wednesday he will no longer do his trademark money sign — part of a larger effort to quiet the distraction his persona had become to his teammates.
Manziel admitted that during his rookie season last year — which he termed “a disaster” Wednesday — he was a distraction off the field at times.
“I feel bad about that today,” he said. “I feel bad about that throughout the last months of my life really thinking back and seeing how much of my life outside of this field and outside of this locker room was documented. It’s not fair for Joe Haden to be having to answer questions about me every day. It’s not fair for Joe Thomas and all these guys to just continue to have questions asked about me. I don’t think that’s fair at all and I don’t want that on them.”
He added that Johnny Manziel could not handle the “Johnny Football” persona that had been created around him at Texas A&M and via social media.
“I think it just overtook who I was as a person, too,” Manziel said. “I think at times Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit, too, and I bought into that. … I think I didn’t do my best to hush things down, push down the hype.
“I think at times I welcomed it with immaturity and just accepted that a little bit. And that’s my fault. At the end of the day everything that happened last year is not on anybody else but myself.”
He said he could not handle the hype and spotlight that focused on him and he wants to “suffocate that a little bit.” Moving forward, he wants to be conscious of the effect his presence has on his teammates.
“Whatever I can do to help quiet the noise that has surrounded this team and surrounded myself, I don’t want that anymore. I just want to be another player on this team that is in here trying to get better and just trying to be successful,” he said.
A company called Already LLC, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, recently transferred trademarks it owns — Johnny Baseball, Johnny Basketball, Johnny Sports, Johnny Golf and Johnny Soccer — to Manziel. Manziel is still in the process of securing Johnny Football.
Manziel also emphasized his desire to focus on football and limit the attention on his personal life.
“My focus is on football. It’s what I’m here to do. It’s what I love to do and that’s what I’m here to talk about today,” he said.
“My private life, and what goes on, that’s documented about I think enough,” he added. “So, for me today, I’m sitting here and eager to talk about the 2015 Cleveland Browns, what we have this year and we have in this locker room moving forward and what are the goals and what we want to do this season. That’s really my focus. Everything else, I’m trying to really close a chapter on my life and move forward and really continue to build on the things I’ve done throughout this offseason.”
Manziel checked himself into rehab after the season “in order to be a better family member, friend and teammate,” one of his advisers said at the time.
Manziel apologized to the team and fans, and has tried to keep a lower profile since he left rehab. He’s been to Cavs games, and was involved in a water-bottle-throwing incident with a persistent autograph seeker, but has been quiet otherwise.
“I think I’ve done a good job throughout this offseason of really trying to get back to my roots and who I am as a person. … I got back to doing some things that I grew up doing that I really enjoy that are quiet, that occupy my time in a better way other than traveling or anything else of that sort,” he said.
Donte Whitner described Manziel’s rookie season as “disastrous.” Manziel started two games and completed 51.4 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 42.0, and he ended the season watching the finale in the locker room after missing the team’s walkthrough the day before because he was out the previous night.
Manziel has been working with the second team this offseason. The Browns signed Josh McCown in the offseason and said he would be the starter during offseason work and heading into training camp.
Information from ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell contributed to this report.
Source: ESPN Sports Johnny Manziel: ‘I feel bad’ about being a distraction