Johnny Manziel ended up on the wrong side of the Cleveland Browns’ preseason quarterback competition, and Boomer Esiason was not surprised.
“Not surprised at all,” the NFL on CBS Today analyst said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “As a matter of fact, the moment he flipped the bird the other night on television, I said, ‘That guy needs to be sat down, and he needs to be told how to act as a professional football player who plays the most important position in all of professional sports.’ And it is not the first time that I would have said this about Johnny Manziel. I would have said it two or three different times over the offseason. This is a kid that obviously has got some track record here that the world is his oyster and that he’s not going to change.”
“Well, if he’s not going to change, he ain’t gonna find himself on the football field,” Esiason continued. “You have to earn your way on the NFL football field. Your teammates know; your coaches know; the fans may not know, and the fans may be all excited about having Johnny Football in their city. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not his play land. He hasn’t earned the right to say that it is or even be on it.”
Indeed, Esiason believes starting Brian Hoyer is the right choice – for many reasons.
“Quite frankly, their opening game against Pittsburgh would be an unmitigated disaster (if Manziel started),” Esiason said. “I saw troubles Monday night in Washington. I thought Jon Gruden did a very good job describing some of the issues quarterbacks have to go through. When you play on the road in Pittsburgh against that defense and Dick LeBeau’s scheme, you’re asking for somebody like Johnny Manziel to get hurt. I can only go by the two games I’ve seen him in thus far in the preseason against Detroit and Washington. The players are going after him. They know who he is. They know the celebrity that he brings. That’s part of what Johnny is all about.”
“When he was drafted by Cleveland,” Esiason continued, “I basically tweeted out that Cleveland is relevant because he’s an exciting player, and once he figures it out, maybe he will be able to reach his potential as the player we saw at Texas A&M. But at this point right now, there is no way – no way – do I believe he is ready to start the season as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback.”
But would it be good for Johnny Manziel, Doug Gottlieb wondered, if he did have a poor outing? Would it be good if he took some hits and got exposed? Would that humble him a bit and make him realize how hard he has to work?
In theory, yes. But this isn’t tennis or baseball or golf. This is football.
“This is the NFL,” Esiason said. “The NFL is a very dangerous place, and the way that he plays football right now is a warrant for his injury. That’s the last thing that certainly Cleveland wants. It’s the last thing any of us want. I saw the kid at Texas A&M. I watched every one of his games that were on national television. I wanted to see him play. He was an exciting player. He was must-see TV. Hell, I tuned in when they were playing Detroit. I tuned in Monday night simply because I wanted to see him. He’s that exciting of a player. He’s that exciting and unique of a personality.”
“But flipping the bird, I had enough. Enough’s enough already. He has to grow up. And right now, for his own good, I would keep him off the field.”