BEREA—Mike Pettine answered a question with some words that raised some eyebrows in his press conference Thursday.
Pettine was asked about his thoughts on the possibility of Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon re-uniting as a formidable one-two punch on offense in 2016.
On Wednesday, Manziel said that he stays in close contact with Gordon and Pettine was asked his thoughts in regards to the influence of a player on Manziel who has been suspended by the NFL multiple times and is presently serving an indefinite suspension for violating the league’s banned substance rules.
“We stress to our players, not just Johnny but it’s all of them, about making it in this business and getting the right people around you," Pettine said. "I’m not going to sit here and pile on Josh – his history is documented – and we haven’t been able to, by league rule, have a lot of interaction, but from the feedback that we’ve gotten back that, the returns there are very positive.
"That will turn out to be a positive thing if Josh is with us next year and Johnny is on the roster that those two have built a rapport together," Pettine said. "I could see externally you doing the math and saying that, but as I’ve said before, we advise our players but we don’t micromanage them outside of the building.”
The way Pettine worded “if Josh is with us next year and Johnny is on the roster” is interesting.
The hurdles that Gordon has to over come to be on the roster are well-documented. He is serving an indefinite suspension from the NFL and can apply for re-instatement in February 2016, but it’s not a given that he will be re-instated by the NFL. Pettine said the NFL rules allow Browns Director of Player Engagement Ron Brewer to interact with Gordon periodically and the feedback has been “very positive.”
Pettine was asked if the Browns would welcome Gordon back, if re-instated.
“Sure, he’s a Cleveland Brown," Pettine said. "Absolutely, we would.”
When pressed to speculate on the possible offense with Gordon added to the receiving corps next year, Pettine didn’t want to go there.
“I’m focused on the receiving corps this coming Sunday," Pettine said. "I know it’s good to project and you’re getting towards the end of the year and the tendency is to start to look forward, but you can afford to do that. I can’t.”
Manziel, on the other hand, is under contract to the Browns for at least two more years after this season and would be with the Browns unless he's traded or released.
Asked again, about the possible pairing up of Manziel with Gordon, Pettine said.
“Again, that’s just hypothetical, trying to project it to next year," Pettine said. "Those are all questions that will get answered sooner than later. My sole focus is this weekend.”