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Pettine defends Browns' handling of Johnny Manziel

On the Around The League Podcast, NFL Media scribe Marc Sessler has compared the Cleveland Browns' landing of Johnny Manziel to the average man reeling in a supermodel girlfriend.


Around The League predicts the Week 1 starting lineups for all 32 teams, analyzing the potential impact of each rookie class.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

The organization simply didn't know how to handle its good fortune and sudden national attention in the immediate draft aftermath.

After an initial ham-fisted campaign to put Manziel in his place, the Browns have gained perspective and shifted their public stance in recent weeks.

In the face of criticism for the organization's handling of Manziel, coach Mike Pettine told USA Today the Browns were in a "lose-lose" situation with a player who makes the Twitterverse go 'round.

"When people criticize how we handled it, what's the alternative?" Pettine asked. "Would it have been more prudent for us the night we drafted him to name him the starter? And have him come in here and let the media have access to him every day and have a huge press conference for him? Handle him that way?

"It's all about building a team."

The Browns could have canned the post-draft "Hollywood" references and over-the-top "backup quarterback" place-putting, but they ultimately did Manziel a favor by tamping down the "sense of entitlement" discussion in the media.

As one undisclosed former NFL coach said of late Steelers legend Chuck Noll's approach, "You're in the reward and punishment business. Things that come easy are unproductive."

The perception in football circles is that Manziel was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. As one of America's most scrutinized professional athletes, the last thing he needs is talking heads accusing the Browns of handing him the starting job on a sliver platter.

"He doesn't want anything handed to him," Pettine emphasized. "He wants to earn it."

And earn it he will do in August. Brian Hoyer will enter training camp as the starter, but Pettine made it clear the lead is not "insurmountable."

Pettine pointed out that he has been an assistant coach when Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez took their teams to the AFC Championship Game as rookies buoyed by strong defenses and heavy-volume ground attacks.

"So our philosophy all along is build the best team and minimize the importance of the quarterback," Pettine continued. "And then, when you do get a great one, now you have something special."

Manziel is going to get the chance to play. If it doesn't happen by the season opener, one member of the Around The League Podcast is going to be eating more than crow.

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes talk "Hard Knocks" before delving into a new batch of rookie whispers.

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