Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

The Johnny Manziel media obsession hits a new low

johnny-manziel-golf-digestEvery time we think we’ve finally hit the bottom of the media’s obsession with Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, the media finds a way to drain a little more water out of that pool.

It’s one thing when Manziel appears on the cover of Golf Digest, that’s in some ways a commercial endorsement (albeit a rather unexpected one), so we get it.

But we were totally unexpected to see this “report” from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that Manziel Tweeting out a phone number over the weekend was all a prank on a friend.

We’re not sure which is more unsettling, the fact that one of ESPN’s top NFL reporters felt the need to make this into a story, or that Mortensen had to resort to unnamed sources to “confirm” the existence of the prank.

If we had turned in a story like that when we were in journalism school our professor would have thrown us out a window.

The Browns are currently 5-3, in the fight for the division lead in the AFC North, and will be on primetime TV Thursday night against Cincinnati as they attempt to show the NFL and the nation that they have finally turned things around.

But a Manziel prank is what ESPN finds newsworthy about the team?

Oh boy.

In actual real news swirling around the Browns today that did not involve Manziel’s off-field activities, former wide receiver Greg Little, who the Browns waived in May and, after a brief stop in Oakland, is now with the Bengals, decided to open his mouth about Thursday’s game.

“Everything about this game is personal to me,” Little said to various media outlets. “I’m going to go out and lay it on the line. Somebody has to pay.”

We’re not really sure how Little is going to make anyone on the Browns pay, however, Since being signed by the Bengals on Oct. 14, Little has caught just four passes for 55 yards.

“It’s just part of the noise that goes on before a game and now (Little) finally has his platform to say his peace, I guess he’s using it,” Browns safety Donte Whitner said. “But other than that, we don’t really care for it.”

If he makes it into the game, Little should probably be more concerned about what Whitner can do to him, rather than what Little thinks he can do to the Browns.

And in even more important news, general manager Ray Farmer met with the media, covering a variety of topics, most notably whether or not he needs to see Manziel on the field this season.

“I would tell you that there’s an interesting notion I’ve always talked about when it comes to quarterbacks is that how long does it take to actually make a correct assessment of a guy in the National Football League?” Farmer said. “People have varying degrees as to what the answer to that question is. I have my own. I won’t share it, but I do understand that everybody’s eager to see what’s under the hood and what it looks like and what it could be.

“We’ll find out in time I guess is the best answer. There are different ways to look at it. I just don’t think that solving it with one play or one opportunity or one game is really the answer to anybody’s long-term questions.”

It’s a smart answer by Farmer as there is no reason to feed the fire about replacing a winning quarterback in Brian Hoyer with an untested rookie in Manziel at this point in the season.

Unfortunately, Farmer was not able to avoid the derp as he was questioned over why the Browns are not signing Josh Cribbs to return punts.

“I can tell you I have heard the name. I don’t think that I’m in that boat at this point in time. I would ask, ‘Why should I?'” Farmer responded to what was the dumbest question of the day. “I would say that the question becomes who do I want to let go to sign Josh Cribbs? … Because it’s a balancing act. Do you sign someone and let go of another guy to play a role or do you keep the guys that you have multiple roles?”

Look, we love Cribbs as much as the next person. He’s a Golden Flash and left everything he had on the field when he was with the Browns. But that’s the problem – Cribbs has nothing left. He only appeared in six games with the Jets last year, returning eight punts, and is not with a team this season.

In some ways, that question was a fitting end to a strange day in Browns Town.

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