Before the NFL draft, I wrote that the Houston Texans would forever regret it if they didn't take a legendary Texan nicknamed Johnny Football with the No. 1 pick. I stand by that.
Now I'm beginning to wonder whether I will forever regret the Cleveland Browns taking Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick. So much has happened since the moment the Texans opted for Jadeveon Clowney, and little if any of it bodes well for a 21-year-old rock star of a quarterback I believe can be a perennial Pro Bowler.
This was my immediate reaction when the Browns traded up from 26 to 22 to all-time steal Manziel: He one day will be even bigger in Cleveland than his buddy LeBron James ever was. No fandom has ever gone crazier over a 22nd pick than Cleveland's did. For Browns fans, who haven't had a long-running star QB since Otto Graham in the 1940s and '50s, it was as if Elvis had come back to life as a quarterback and gyrated right out of Cleveland's very own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But now, according to several league sources, it sounds as if the Browns' front office and coaching staff were dangerously split on Manziel. ESPN Cleveland reported that Teddy Bridgewater's name initially was written on the card to be handed in to commissioner Roger Goodell -- although new Browns coach Mike Pettine and new general manager Ray Farmer have denied that.
But from what I've heard, Farmer and new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan weren't completely sold on Manziel. Yet, as Manziel began to fall through the first round -- even Jerry Jones passed on him at 16 even though he was the highest player left on the Cowboys' board -- Manziel texted new Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. He's only 33, served as Tennessee's offensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013, and hit it off with Manziel as the Browns evaluated him.
Loggains, an Arkansas native, divulged in a Thursday interview on ESPN Arkansas 96.3 that Manziel's text to him read: "I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me so we can wreck this league together." Loggains said he forwarded the text to Pettine and to owner Jimmy Haslam, who clearly was impressed that a Heisman Trophy winner with a Hollywood aura was so excited about playing in Cleveland, Ohio.
Loggains said Haslam's reponse was: "Pull the trigger. We're trading up to get this guy." Good for Haslam. Yet, according to Loggains, it took the owner overruling others on the staff for Manziel to be a Brown. The others might not be too happy with Loggains for going public with this. This could deepen the staff divide on Manziel.
So I'm left with the queasy feeling Manziel wanted to be a Brown far more than the organization wanted him. Remember, the Browns passed on Manziel twice, at No. 4 and 8. Now comes a report from CBS Sports that, during the draft, the Browns offered Washington a fourth-round pick for quarterback Kirk Cousins, surely at the urging of former Redskins coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Washington reportedly held out for a second-rounder, though, and the deal fell through.