Mike Pettine knows a thing or two about dealing with larger-than-life quarterbacks.
The Cleveland Browns head coach, who will be tasked with guiding first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel through his rookie season, previously worked as the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator during the height of Tim Tebow hysteria.
Manziel might be the only NFL player attracts as much off-the-field attention as Tebow, at least when the latter was under contract. Pettine isn’t drawing many comparisons between the signal-callers, though.
“The circumstances are different,” he told reporters Sunday, via Cleveland.com. “Tebow was an established NFL player, he wasn’t coming in as a rookie, unproven. It’s a little easier for us with Manziel because he understands he earned Johnny Football as a college player and nobody understands it more than him. It’s like, ‘Listen, I don’t want to be named starter coming out of the draft.’
“People criticize us for referring to him as a backup. That’s what he is. It would have been a disservice to the other 80-some players in the locker room and it would have been a service to him carrying that burden of ‘What have you done to deserve this?’ We all want him to be successful but there is a process that has to occur and he has to go through it.”
The spotlight placed on Manziel leading up to Week 1 will at least be dimmed a bit by the fact that the Browns have turned down an invitation to be featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” documentary series. As a first-year head coach, Pettine had the right to decline.
“It was for the same reason we didn’t feel super comfortable having a camera in the draft room,” Pettine said. “Let’s get through the first time, let’s get through the first year.”