If you haven’t heard by now, Johnny Manziel spent his weekend riding on an inflatable swan. While that’s pretty awesome, it’s the response of his head coach, Mike Pettine, that’s even more interesting.
“We’re not going to be in the business of micromanaging our players outside of the building,” Pettine told NFL Media’s Adam Schein. “It’s something that he (Manziel) understands.”
Pettine understands who Manziel is both on and off the field. There’s no reason to police his behavior, especially when he’s not doing anything illegal. What matters is how Manziel treats his time on the field and in the practice facility. Otherwise, everything else is just background noise.
“One of the biggest things that we look at when we evaluate players from a personality standpoint – it’s a very fine line – it’s how much does the player love football versus how much does this player love what football does for him,” said Pettine. “What we don’t want is a guy that loves what football does for him and really doesn’t love the game. And that’s very much not the case with Johnny. He absolutely loves football. …
“He’s very difficult on himself, he’s a guy that he wants to win every down, and you could tell. He gets very upset when things don’t work out. … And we understand too that he does love what football has done for him, and in large part I think a lot of us are jealous of what football has done for him.”
For now, Pettine is 100 percent correct. Manziel obviously loves the fame football brings him, but we have yet to see that affect his game. That said, if that moment ever comes, when the fame becomes more important than the sport, Manziel could be in trouble.
“He understands Johnny Football was earned at Texas A&M, but he really has to hit the reset button. It’s like back to zero in the NFL; it would kind of ring hollow that if he was promoted as Johnny Football and he’s not performing well in the NFL,” Pettine said. “So he knows he has to earn that job, he’s gotta win the job first and be a productive player in the league for that to come back.”
Still, the media has made it pretty clear that Johnny Football has followed Manziel into the NFL, and they are going to continue to single him out until Manziel Mania runs its course.
As Pettine said, “If you followed other guys, you’d get some pictures. Maybe not an inflatable swan, but you’d get some pictures.”
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