BEREA—Though Johnny Manziel wasn’t arrested by Avon Police last Monday, following a domestic incident involving his girlfriend and alcohol, Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby believes that the quarterback has still been incarcerated.
“You’re all making him a prisoner,” Dansby said to the media in Berea. “He’s a prisoner of his own success.”
There’s no doubt that Manziel has attracted relentless media for his on-field success at Texas A&M, but he’s been in the spotlight more so for his off-the-field exploits over the last two seasons in Cleveland.
Manziel’s latest incident, however, is a bit different than the others.
Last year, when Manziel went through his late-season struggles with missed meetings and more, his teammates weren’t quite willing to back the quarterback, despite his flaws.
Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“We're not going to turn our back on him. We're going to support him,” Dansby said. “We're going to be there to lift him up when people try to tear him down. We've got his back.”
After reading the report and talking with his teammates, Dansby’s support of the quarterback— which wasn’t all that strong at the end of last season— is all of the sudden unwavering.
It’s so steadfast, in fact, that Dansby said that there’s far too much being made out of last Monday’s disturbance.
“Nothing happened, so why is it an issue?” Dansby said. “Let the man live.”
The sudden change in support for Manziel isn’t without cause.
After the miserable end to his rookie campaign, Manziel committed himself to football and to changing his life, which in turn, brought his teammates back to his corner.
"He's a different guy all the way around. His approach to the game. His approach to life in general,” Dansby said. “Coming in early, staying late, working on his body, working hard in the weight room… You’ve got to prove yourself year in and year out and that's what he's trying to do right now.”
Manziel's teammates aren’t the only ones who’ve seen a change in the quarterback.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine backed Dansby’s observations and said that he too has noticed a complete reversal in Manziel’s behavior.
“He’s been an A+ when he’s here,” Pettine said. “I'm proud of the steps he's taken toward his personal accountability, how he has handled himself since the start of the offseason. Like I said, he has made huge strides around this building from the time he spent here, the quality of work he has done in the meeting room and on the practice field and on the game field.”
Though Dansby and Pettine offered comment on Manziel’s turnaround, one who wasn’t as willing to offer his support publicly was quarterback Josh McCown.
McCown, who’s been a mentor to Manziel since arriving to the Browns, said that he'll support the quarterback, but insisted that he do so in private.
“Johnny and I’s relationship will stay behind closed doors,” McCown said. “It doesn’t matter what I think, as far as publicly. If the idea is, as you said, to mentor Johnny and do all those things, than that’s between Johnny and I.”
He might have the the backing of the Browns, but that doesn't mean that Manziel is at all perfect nor off the hook for the latest incident.
“We are not saying he has it all figured out,” Pettine said. “It's a process and we are supporting him through it.”
Dansby agreed and said that with learning comes mistakes, which, in the case of Manziel, will always be magnified.
“He's a grown man. He's gotta live and he's gotta learn,” Dansby said. “He's a role model. He's got to understand it's a lot of pressure on him.”
As the details of the latest incident emerge, it remains to be seen how long the support for Manziel will last.
For now, at least, when he steps onto the field wearing an orange helmet, he'll be trusted.
“When we're on the field everybody's having a good time and we're in good spirits,” Dansby said. “When we're out there, he's among his friends and his brothers.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.