Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 18 2015, Page 47

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 18, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE D4 D 4 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2015 NFL winnipegfreepress. com B EREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel held a funeral Wednesday for Johnny Football. “ I’m trying to really close a chapter on my life and move forward and really continue to build on the things that I’ve done throughout this off- season,” Manziel said in his first interview since Dec. 29 after the Browns wrapped up their second practice of mandatory mini- camp. Manziel admitted he became overwhelmed by the Johnny Football persona he helped create when he took college football by storm and won the Heisman Trophy at Texas A& M in 2012. The hype, celebrity and partying became too much to handle. It played a part in his nightmarish rookie season with the Browns after they drafted him 22nd overall last year, and it ultimately contributed to him spending more than 10 weeks this off- season in an inpatient rehabilitation facility specializing in alcohol and drug addiction treatment. “ I think it just overtook who I was just as person, too,” Manziel said. “ I think, at times, Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit, too, and I bought into that. I think I didn’t do my best to hush things down, push down the hype. I think at times I welcomed it with immaturity and just accepted that a little bit, and that’s my fault. “ At the end of the day, everything that happened last year is not on anybody else but myself. I guess I wasn’t prepared to handle the type of spotlight that I got and all the hype that came with it. So moving forward, I’m trying to do my part to push that down, suffocate that a little bit and just try to live my life and come out here, and I’m happy being back out here on the football field, I’m happy being back out here with these guys and I’m excited to come to work every day.” In an effort to bury Johnny Football, Manziel vowed to no longer flash his popular “ money sign” hand gesture. In the past, he would routinely rub his fingers against his thumbs after making plays on the gridiron or while posing for photographs. He even did it on stage at Radio City Music Hall when he was drafted. “ The money sign will not be back,” Manziel said. “ I will not be making it.” Manziel, 22, politely told reporters he wouldn’t discuss details of his private life, but it’s clear the issues he faced off the field last year interfered with his job. He led the offence to just three points in six quarters as a starter and finished 0- 2 after taking veteran Brian Hoyer’s spot in the lineup in December. He described his rookie season as a time he is not “ proud of, not one that I want to look back on very much.” His poor performances and behaviour away from the field cast a large shadow of doubt on whether he’ll ever live up to the expectations the Browns placed upon him when they traded up four spots to pick him. “ Obviously, last year was, in my mind, for me personally, a disaster,” Manziel said. “ I didn’t come out and perform. “ I think it’s even my fault — the way that I’ve built myself up. I set myself up for a little bit of failure in that regard if I didn’t come out as a rookie and really perform.” Manziel thanked the Browns for their support throughout this off- season. He said his teammates embraced him when he rejoined the team after rehab and acknowledged his TMZ lifestyle has put many of them in difficult positions in the past. “ My private life has been out there to a maximum degree,” Manziel said. “ There’s no doubt about that. So for me, one thing that I want to do moving forward in this off- season is just try to quiet that to the best of my ability — whatever I can do to help quiet the noise that has surrounded this team and surrounded myself. I don’t want that anymore. I just want to be another player on this team that is in here trying to get better and trying to be successful. We want to win here. “ Off the field, I was a little bit of a distraction. I feel bad about that today. I feel bad about that throughout the last months of my life really thinking back and seeing how much of my life outside of this field and outside of this locker- room was documented. It’s not fair for ( Pro Bowl cornerback) Joe Haden to be having to answer questions about me every day. It’s not fair for ( All- Pro left tackle) Joe Thomas and all these guys to just continue to have questions asked about me. I don’t think that’s fair at all, and I don’t want that.” Manziel has promised to change before, only to fall short of delivering. After he landed on injured reserve last year, he didn’t show up to receive treatment on his hamstring the morning of Dec. 27 — the day before the season finale — at team headquarters because he stayed out too late the previous night partying with friends. The Browns reportedly sent security to rouse Manziel at his former downtown Cleveland apartment because they couldn’t reach him by phone. Two days later, he told reporters he needed to “ look myself in the mirror and hold myself accountable and start making some deals with myself.” But the next day, a video of Manziel hanging out with friends at a nightclub in Miami Beach, Fla., appeared on social media. His partying continued during stops in Houston and Aspen, Colo. He checked into rehab Jan. 28 and news of his release broke April 11. Manziel realizes he must earn trust this time around. “ Actions speak way louder than words,” he said. “ So as much as I may have intended to do some of those things ( I promised to do) last year and really truly wanted to, I don’t think I was in a position personally. Now I think I’m doing the right things and taking the right steps necessary for me to put myself in the best position possible to be exactly what this organization drafted me to be. I don’t want to give up on that fact at all. I’m not giving up on the fact that they brought me in here as a first- round pick and want to see something out of me. That’s not lost on me and hopefully not other people in this lockerroom, either.” Manziel has been working as the No. 2 quarterback throughout spring practices. Coach Mike Pettine has labelled veteran journeyman Josh McCown the favorite to head into the coming season as the starter. Last year, Pettine pitted Manziel against Hoyer in training camp, but this year, there has been no hint of a quarterback competition. — Akron Beacon Journal ( Akron, Ohio) By Nate Ulrich Burying Johnny Football Manziel says he’s a changed man, vows his days of living TMZ lifestyle are behind him ‘ I guess I wasn’t prepared to handle the type of spotlight that I got and all the hype that came with it’ — Johnny Manziel ( AP PHOTO/ DAVID RICHARD) Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says the hype, celebrity and partying became too much to handle during his rookie season. ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants Dez Bryant to spend his entire career with the team, and anticipates that the disgruntled All- Pro receiver will be at training camp and the regular- season opener. Bryant has not signed his franchise tender that will guarantee him $ 12.8 million this season. He has indicated his willingness to skip regular- season games without a new long- term deal. “ I have no doubt that when we play, if we’re still in a franchise situation, I have no doubt that he’ll be leading the way against the Giants,” Jones said Wednesday. “ We just know how competitive Dez is and how much he wants to beat the Giants and how much he wants to support his teammates.” Without another deal in place by a July 15 deadline, Bryant would be locked into the $ 12.8 million salary, and there could be no further negotiations until after the season. Jones addressed several subjects while speaking to reporters for more than 35 minutes during the Cowboys’ mini- camp practice at their home stadium. But the primary topic was the absence of Bryant three months before the Sept. 13 opener at home against their NFC East rivals. A day after Bryant’s agent Tom Condon told SiriusXM NFL Radio there have been no talks recently with the team about a new deal, Jones responded, “ that’s a mistake to think there have not been areas that I could couch and define as negotiations.” The Cowboys owner didn’t elaborate. In a tweet Wednesday on his verified account, Bryant wrote, “ Everybody voicing opinions.. 13 mil is cool but Where is my security? I’ll wait ... 5 years without complaining.. So how am I selfish? # family1” Asked about Bryant’s tweet, Jones said he was very sympathetic and understands completely Bryant’s desires. “ I would like nothing more than to have long- term security with Dez. Now that’s where you get right down to it. We’ve worked together great for five years,” Jones said. “ The fact that Dez is where he is, the fact that he’s as substantive as he is relatively speaking to the way he came into the league, with the criticism that he was taking, I was taking, is really rewarding. We’ve got more. There is more ahead. ... But we’ve got to get it all done to everybody’s satisfaction.” Jones, who said he had spoken to the receiver as recently as 10 days earlier, added Bryant has the chance to be even better in the future. Bryant caught 89 passes for 1,350 yards and an NFL- high 16 touchdowns last season, the end of his rookie deal that paid him about $ 11.8 million over five years. The former first- round draft pick has had at least 80 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 TDs in three consecutive seasons. If Bryant went through with his threat to skip regular- season games, he would forfeit more than $ 750,000 for each one he missed under the $ 12.8 million franchise figure. “ I do have a good relationship with Dez. I know that he, like the Cowboys want him to be a Cowboy all of his playing career. We value him,” Jones said. “ Other than Dez, nobody is prouder of his accomplishments. Nobody took more criticism than I did when we drafted him.” — The Associated Press FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — For a day, at least, Vince Wilfork was with the Patriots again, to collect a Super Bowl ring at the home of team owner Robert Kraft. His presence at the celebration served as an immediate reminder that the leader won’t be in Foxborough this coming season for the first time in a long time. The five- time Pro Bowl defensive lineman who played 11 seasons with New England and won two Super Bowls is shifting to the Houston Texans, playing alongside J. J. Watt. “ Big V was awesome. He was a big, big deal for the team, the city and everything to do with the Patriots,” defensive tackle Alan Branch said Wednesday as the Patriots finished the second day of a three- day minicamp. “ He was a great guy and a great leader, but ... it’s next man up and that’s always the mentality of a football player.” There is no shortage of candidates to fill the void. Branch, signed to a new two- year deal, is in the mix but not a shoo- in. Two top draft picks — Dominque Easley and Malcom Brown — both play the position, with Easley coming back from knee surgery that shortened his rookie season. “ I don’t feel like I’m where I need to be right now, but I feel like I’m going to get there,” said Easley, who played in 11 games and had just 10 tackles before going down with the injury. Asked about the difference on the field with Wilfork gone, Branch smiled and said: “ There’s not another guy as big as me right next to me right now.” Brown, who came from Texas, is 6- 2 and 320 pounds, five pounds lighter than Wilfork’s listed weight. “ I’m not here to replace anybody,” Brown said. “ Whatever role the coaches give me, I’m going to take that role and I’m going to play my best at it.” Wilfork played in 177 games with the Patriots, starting 19 games in the postseason. His absence means the defensive line needs to find cohesion again. “ The best part about this is you get to bond on and off the field,” said Easley, who says he’s happy to be back on the field because there’s no other profession like playing in the NFL. — The Associated Press Jones wants Bryant to play Cowboys’ receiver threatens to sit out By Stephen Hawkins Jerry Jones Dez Bryant Wilfork leaves big hole to fill for Pats defenders D_ 04_ Jun- 18- 15_ FP_ 01. indd D4 6/ 17/ 15 8: 28: 58 PM

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