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Browns Continue To Be Really Weird About Johnny Manziel

Despite decades of futility and the strong stench of failure that generally emanates from the Cleveland Browns, this team actually managed to generate some positive buzz by selecting Texas A&M superstar quarterback Johnny Manziel No. 22 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. It’s been less than a week, but somehow the luster continues to fade with each passing day.

The downward trajectory (the only trajectory this franchise knows) began last Friday, just one day after Manziel’s selection. That’s when ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio recounted a bizarre meeting with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, in which he revealed that he was was acting on the advice of a homeless man when he decided to draft Johnny Football.

[Click here to hear Sal Pal’s tale]

So yeah, an interesting start to say the least.

Haslam’s insane story aside, there was good news that followed. Ticket sales in Cleveland quickly skyrocketed, with more than 2,300 season tickets sold within 20 hours of the selection, and Manziel’s jersey is leading all rookie sales.

Not content to leave (better than) well enough alone, it seems the Browns organization has gone out of its way this week to rain on its own parade. They’re urinating in their own Wheaties. They’re collecting black flies for their own glasses of Chardonnay.

First came Haslam’s supremely unnecessary comments aimed, for some unknown reason, at putting Manziel in his place. Said Cleveland’s criminally inclined owner, “We were frank with [Manziel] on Friday that’s the expectation, you’re the backup. This is a hard-working, blue-collar town, this isn’t Hollywood. We want you to come in and go to work.”

While his message was reasonable enough, the tone and delivery were excessively harsh. There are ways to say the exact same thing without completely insulting Manziel, inferring that he’s lazy and too caught up in his own celebrity to bother showing up for work.

And why is Haslam even handling such media inquiries? When was the last time Art Rooney made himself available to the Pittsburgh media to answer basic personnel questions about the Steelers? This should be below his pay grade.

That was Monday.

On Tuesday Zak Gilbert, Cleveland’s director of communications, announced that rookie minicamp this Saturday would be limited to local media only, with a few exceptions for national writers. Requests to cover an offseason practice or minicamp are required 48 hours in advance.

Again, the request is reasonable enough. There’s no question that Manziel is a one-man media hype machine, so taking some basic precautions to prevent a media circus makes sense. But overly aggressive and somewhat negative way they’re going about it seems excessive.

There will be no live video of rookie minicamp, with satellite trucks and entertainment networks broadcasting instead from team headquarters. Media access to Browns OTAs will also be seriously limited for national writers.

That being said, it’s their prerogative, they can do what they wanna do. And if what they wanna do is break Manziel’s spirit and kill the first (positive) outside interest they’ve had in forever, well then mission accomplished.

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