Created on Saturday, 26 July 2014 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Like reading a blitz, Johnny Manziel knew the questions about his off-field wildness were coming. So the Browns quarterback struck first.
"At the end of the day," Manziel said, "I've made some rookie mistakes."
On the eve of Cleveland's first training camp practice, Manziel offered some regret about his well-chronicled weekend partying over the past two months. But as he prepares to battle Brian Hoyer for a starting job, Manziel said he's in good standing with his bosses.
It's time to get to work.
From here on, he's Johnny All About Football.
"There's some things that I wish I could've gone back and done a little differently," Manziel said. "But I'm continuing to move forward and trying to represent this organization in a positive manner and a positive light, so just very excited to be back in camp and it's football 24/7 and that's what I love doing. That's what I live for and it's what my job, so for me, I'm very excited to be back and can't wait to get this underway."
Manziel addressed his fraternity-guy-gone-wild behavior, which included photos of him hanging out poolside in Las Vegas with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, swigging champagne on an inflatable swan pool raft in a Texas nightclub and a shot of him rolling a dollar bill in a bathroom. Manziel didn't say he'll change completely, but vowed to be focused on football going forward.
Manziel opened his news conference by discussing his off-field exploits, saying he has spoken to Browns coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.
"For me, my main thing is, people within this building, my teammates, the coaching staff, the higher-ups in this organization we've all been on the same page," he said. "We've all been good and very eager to be moving forward."
For weeks, the Browns downplayed Manziel's antics. But as his questionable conduct continued and after the startling photo surfaced of Manziel with the rolled-up bill, Pettine reached out to the 21-year-old while he was on vacation.
"I've talked about that with Coach Pettine," Manziel said. "I've talked about it with Farmer and the people I needed to talk about that with. Moving forward, they're good with everything. I've told them everything that I need to, and everything's been good."
While acknowledging he could have made better decisions, Manziel also defended his lifestyle.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with me going out and having a night life, having a social life," he said. "I mean I am 21 years old and I do like going out and it was the offseason. It's free time for us and if I want to go out and hang out with my friends or go to nightclubs or do things like that then I think that's within my rights to be doing that.
"I think there's other guys throughout the league that are doing that and I'm not trying to compare myself to anybody else but I think that's within my rights to be doing that."
Manziel doesn't think his busy social calendar will hurt his chances to beat out Hoyer.
"I don't believe so," he said. "I think there are definitely things moving forward to help better act as a professional. At the same time, I'm still learning how to do that. I'm still getting used to this role, still getting used to this league, still getting used to being a pro football player.
"I'm not in college anymore. There's things I need to do better, and that's just part of being a professional. Hopefully with time and going through this season and as time goes on, I'll get better at doing that."
The former Texas A&M star enters his first camp as Cleveland's No. 2 quarterback behind Hoyer, who will get all the reps with Cleveland's starting offense during the first few days of camp.
Pettine, who earlier this week said he wants to name his starter "pretty quickly" believes Manziel enters camp well prepared to compete with Hoyer.
The continuous controversy surrounding Manziel has somewhat overshadowed Hoyer, who has worked his way back after suffering a season-ending knee injury in his third start last season. The homegrown Hoyer is certain he'll hang on to his starting job and be behind center when the Browns open at Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.
"I'm confident I am that guy, but in the same sense I know if it comes down to the fact Johnny does beat me out I will have given everything I can and he will have totally earned it," Hoyer said. "That's what you want. All I ask is the opportunity and a chance to earn the job, and that's what I've been given. For me it's about going out every day and proving I can be that guy I believe I am."