Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine said Thursday that Johnny Manziel will again need to address his off-the-field issues in order to have a future as the teams quarterback. Manziel is done for the remainder of this season—he was ruled out of Sunday’s finale against the Steelers due to a sustained concussion.
The latest drama surrounding the former Heisman Trophy winner stems from a Christmas Eve video which shows Manziel had been drinking. Reports have indicated Manziel has been drinking on a regular basis—something the team is extremely uncomfortable with, considering Manziel spent 73 days at an inpatient addiction rehabilitation facility during the offseason.
“Here is a guy that has an NFL skill set, he’s very talented, if you spend some time with him, he’s a likable guy, you root for him,” said Pettine. “But there are problems there that we’ll talk as we’re headed to the offseason about getting addressed. And I’ve said this before, we want to make sure that all of our players are in good shape as people first, players second. Because I don’t think you can be as effective as you can be as a player if things aren’t right off the field. And he’s a good example of that.”
Pettine said he is yet to address the Christmas Eve video which showed Manziel drinking. The video was released on Sunday, the same day the Browns fell in a four point 17-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The problem surrounding Manziel’s apparent alcohol abuse could be deeper than the public suspects — multiple sources have reported the Browns fear the young quarterback could be sliding back to his past behavior.
As much as Pettine and the Browns would like to help Manziel, their desire to do so can’t be as impactful during the offseason because of league rules, the coach said.
“I don’t think we can really mandate it, but there can be strong suggestions as far as how he handles it,” said Pettine. “But by the rules of the league, we can’t [say], ‘Hey, you need to come in here and meet with Kevin O’Connell three times a week.’ It’s against the rules. You can’t do that. You’ve got to be able to send him off with a plan and check in every so often, and when the desire is there to want to get it changed and want to be better, hopefully you’ll have a good result.”
Pettine also said Manziel’s actions have not effected the play of his football team, simply saying “I don’t look at it that way, it’s one of the challenges of coaching. Every year that I’ve been in the league, there’s drama on every football team.”
The Browns are slated to likely end up with the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in the draft, but will they expunge that pick on a new franchise quarterback? Pettine has also indicated that he personally believes Manziel has what it takes to be the quarterback of the future for Cleveland.
“We always talk in terms of long-term sustained success and that’s what you want to strive for. If things aren’t right off the field, that’s very difficult to have that level of consistency, especially when you’re in a position of leadership.”
David Barclay is an NFL Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII