BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Johnny Manziel isn’t going to change his lifestyle for anyone — like it or not.
Cleveland’s celebrity-in-cleats rookie, who spent a well-documented weekend of sun and fun in Las Vegas, said Wednesday he’s dedicated to the Browns. And he doesn’t intend to stop being the young quarterback who morphed into Johnny Football and a phenomenon during college.
“I don’t live my life according to you guys or according to what other people think of me,” Manziel said following practice, surrounded by reporters and cameras. “I’m going to live my life to the fullest and continue to be committed to this game and committed to what I need to be doing here, and trying to earn my place in this locker room and with these coaches and this organization.
“If I want to go out and have some fun and it doesn’t hinder what my main goals in life are, then I really don’t care what anyone has to say.”
The 21-year-old Manziel said he was surprised by the reaction to his weekend getaway in Vegas, where he took advantage of a break from the Browns’ organized team activities to hang out poolside with Patriots partying tight end Rob Gronkowski, attended a UFC fight and enjoyed the nightlife. He was filmed spraying champagne on patrons in a Sin City hot spot.
Manziel said he was somewhat caught off-guard by the publicity surrounding his Memorial Day weekend jaunt, which was chronicled during his stay on Twitter and other social media sites. In fact, Manziel partially contributed to the mania by posting photos of himself with Gronkowski and others by the pool.
He’s not apologizing for having fun.
“I don’t really feel that it’s a story,” he said. “It was a little bit of a break for us and I got to enjoy it and relax.”
Manziel’s aware of criticism about his decision to leave town, and that some may feel he’s not working hard enough. After all, he’s not even Cleveland’s starting quarterback and there’s no guarantee he’ll beat out Brian Hoyer in training camp.
Manziel is only concerned about what his teammates and coaches think. They are united in their support of the first-round draft pick, a player Cleveland fans hope can revive their franchise.
Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine said Manziel, who took some snaps with Cleveland’s first-team offense, told him about his plans to go to Vegas. The team didn’t have any issues with the trip.
“My advice to him was: have fun,” Pettine said. “He’s a young guy. He’s done everything that we’ve asked. The playbook has not been an issue for him. It’s something that I know a big deal was made of it, but internally we have an expectation for all of our players outside of the building to act a certain way, and it’s really a non-issue.
“Just like anybody else, he’s a man and we’re going to treat our guys like that until they prove that they need to be treated otherwise.”
Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas might eventually protect Manziel’s blindside, assuming, that is, the young QB wins the starting job. Thomas said Manziel’s weekend excursion wasn’t anything to be concerned about.
“Not a big deal,” he said. “If you were doing that the night before a game then it would be a different issue, but it is the offseason. You need a chance to decompress and get your mind off of football because it’s a long haul and the season is going to be a long grind, so you need to kind of let loose a little bit when you get the chance.”
Being the center of attention is nothing new to Manziel. He’s been in the middle of madness since breaking onto the scene as a Texas A&M freshman.
“I can’t think back to the days of how it was when I didn’t have people tweeting or taking pictures of wherever I was — and not in a way that I have a big head or anything like that,” he said. “It’s just how things are, wherever I want to go people are taking pictures and think I’m doing something wild when I’m just living a normal life.”
His off-field actions aside, Manziel is staying humble and hungry. All he wants to do is live up to his hype.
“I’m just another rookie,” he said. “I’m just another guy that comes up just like any other quarterback or any other guy does from the next year. Yeah, Heisman Trophy and I did some OK things in college, but I haven’t done anything here.”
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