BEREA— Browns head coach Mike Pettine walks into the Dino Lucarelli Media Center and sits affront the media at the team’s headquarters in Berea far more often than he’d like.
“Am I ever comfortable sitting up here?” Pettine said. “No.”
On Monday afternoon, just two days after a report emerged in which Johnny Manziel and his girlfriend had been in a domestic dispute involving alcohol, Pettine seemed to be even less comfortable than usual when facing the Cleveland media.
Answering questions about Manziel’s incident for more than ten minutes, Pettine didn’t dive deep into the details about the quarterback’s comeuppance, but did say that the situation would be dealt with in private.
“As far as detailing how we handle personal issues with our players, I just don’t think this is the place to do it,” Pettine said at the press conference. “I'll keep the details of those conversations between Johnny and us. He knows what's expected of him by this organization as all of our players do. We constantly communicate that, how he is supposed to conduct himself as a player here in the building and also how to handle himself outside of the building.”
The lack of details regarding Manziel’s potential punishment just lead to more questions for Pettine to answer.
The first of those questions was why the Browns decided to keep Manziel active as the backup quarterback for Sunday’s game against Denver, despite the claims of domestic abuse that stemmed from the incident.
“That’s the decision we made based on the information we had,” Pettine said. “We took all the circumstances, took into account all the information we had and made the decision we made to have him up.”
With no public punishment yet dished out to Manziel for the incident last week, even with the details of the domestic dispute outlined in the Avon police report, the question then became one that involved the concept of accountability.
Pettine has made much of accountability, on-and-off the field, as a big part of his coaching mantra, which had some questioning the lack of public punishment for the backup.
“There’s accountability,” Pettine said. “Some accountability is public, some of it’s private.”
The police report had claims of Manziel pushing his girlfriend, Colleen Crowley’s, head into a window, grabbing her arm and hitting her, leading to thoughts that a public punishment would be absolutely necessary.
Just because outsiders— be it the media, fans or just everyday citizens— believe that it’s necessary, doesn’t sway Pettine’s stance that punishment for Manziel will remain in private.
“If you think that we're just turning a cheek to this and ignoring it, you'd be dead wrong,” Pettine said. “We’ve dealt with it, but I just don’t think this is the forum to discuss it.”
After addressing Manziel’s punishment, the concept of punishment and accountability in the Browns building became more general, as this isn't the first time it has been questioned.
Manziel’s fellow first-round draft pick in 2014, cornerback Justin Gilbert, was involved in a road-rage incident earlier this season and, as is this case with Manziel to this point, there was no punishment ever disclosed to the general population.
That doesn’t mean, however, that punishment wasn’t doled out to Gilbert.
According to Pettine, the Browns punish their players a great deal.
“We handle discipline in a variety of ways,” Pettine said. “We don’t publish players getting fined. Those details stay private, but our players get fined often and for a variety of things.”
The Browns may regularly punish their players, but that doesn’t necessarily solve the public’s view of a lack of accountability for wrongdoing in the team's building.
With a scowl on his brow, Pettine sought to undress that veiled view, once and for all.
“I just don’t know how much more I can say on it,” Pettine said. “I just don’t like where we’re headed with, just because there was no instant public punishment that all of a sudden there’s no accountability in our locker room.”
Though he said he’ll handle the job of punishing Manziel appropriately and internally, Pettine too said that the NFL will get involved in the issue.
The details of their involvement, however, were a bit more hazy.
“The league gets involved when there’re cases like this. I don’t know what their timetable is,” Pettine said. “I don’t know the specifics, but as with anything that comes up, there’s a reporting process you go through. I’m not privy to what their details are as far as timetable.”
In dealing with the uncomfortable situation— both the incident and the questions that followed— Pettine was asked why he should have to be the one sitting at the podium, being pelted with questions about Manziel and accountablity.
Shouldn’t it have been GM Ray Farmer of President Alec Scheiner sitting at the podium, as opposed to the man responsible for the performance of the Cleveland Browns football team.
Finally, for the first time all day, Pettine seemed comfortable with the question and answered with confidence.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.