-- BEREA, Ohio -- Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas thinks Johnny Manziel can become the most popular player in the NFL -- all he has to do is give the same gesture to the commissioner he gave to the Washington Redskins' bench one year ago.
Thomas did not see the Cleveland Browns quarterback make the gesture in the 2014 preseason game, but he did hear about it soon after via social media.
To Thomas, the gesture was a sign of Manziel being competitive and feisty. The Redskins had taunted Manziel all night in his first preseason start, and he finally had enough.
Does Thomas believe Manziel, entering his second pro season, is beyond that kind of thing?
"No, because it's all going to come down to how he does on the field," Thomas said. "If he goes and wins games and flips off the commissioner, he might be the most popular guy in the NFL."
Thomas also said that success makes a player with bravado, such as Manziel, into a likable figure for fans and a respectable one for players and teams.
"Here's the thing in the NFL," Thomas said as the Browns again prepared to open the preseason against the Redskins on Thursday night. "You do things like that, and you win games and fans love you because of it. You become Joe Namath. People love him because he does that, right?
"That's why they loved [Manziel] in college, because that's how he played. If you don't win and you play crappy and you do that stuff, people hate you because of it."