It's been less than a week since the NFL draft, and the Cleveland Browns are already in the national spotlight because of Johnny Manziel-related news. The headlines started on Monday when team owner Jimmy Haslam reportedly told Manziel to "act like the backup" according to ESPN's Skip Bayless, and they continued Tuesday when the team shut out the national media from rookie minicamps.
The national media is, of course, criticizing the team for restricting its access to one of the sports' most headline-producing players. But those biased critiques aside, the Browns should be commended for their efforts to manage the Manziel frenzy.
Even Haslam's "controversial" comments shouldn't draw too much criticism. It's fair to say that he probably should have kept his mouth shut, but it sounds like the idea behind his comments was that Manziel is not going to be handed the starting job (as he shouldn't be), and that as the current backup, he can't be stealing the show.
One of the most common criticisms of Manziel leading up to last week's draft was that his personality is too big and that he'll attract a Tebow-like media circus. Now the Browns are trying to limit the frenzy as best they can, and while their execution has been mediocre, they deserve some credit for trying.
At some point, Manziel will have to face the media, and perhaps a better solution is to provide set dates when he will be available, rather than shutting him off entirely. Haslam will also have to learn to more clearly convey what he's trying to say, and if he meant exactly what he said, he'll need to learn not to use first-round picks on backup quarterbacks. But at least Cleveland is trying to provide its new quarterback with an opportunity to focus on football. It's hard to be too critical of that.
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