The organization simply didn't know how to handle its good fortune and sudden national attention in the immediate draft aftermath.
"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.
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."
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."
In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes talk "Hard Knocks" before delving into a new batch of rookie whispers.