Count Browns head coach Mike Pettine as less than thrilled about Johnny Manziel’s middle finger flash during Monday’s exhibition loss at Washington.
“It does not sit well. . . . It’s disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused,” Pettine said in his postgame press conference. “You have to be able to maintain your poise. That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback, that we have to keep our composure, so that’s something that we’ll obviously address with him.”
Manziel made the gesture toward the Washington bench late in the third quarter as he ran toward the Cleveland huddle. It came as he played with Cleveland’s reserves after two series with the starters in the first half.
Overall, Manziel completed 7-of-16 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s 24-23 loss at Washington, with the scoring play coming after the rookie quarterback’s gesture.
So back to the bird. Manziel indicated it was a byproduct of the on-field trash talking that can occur in a football game.
“I get words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game every game, week after week, and should have been smarter,” Manziel said. “It was [a] Monday Night Football game, and the cameras were probably solidly on me, so I just need to be, need to be smarter about that.”
Manziel also noted he “felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up.”
When asked why the incident was “a negative,” Manziel joked: “I mean, I don’t think it’s a positive,” as reporters laughed and the quarterback smiled.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was then asked if he believed the incident would distract him.
“No, no, no distraction, no distraction at all,” Manziel said.
“I mean, it’s not a big deal to me,” said the Browns’ first-round quarterback, shrugging and smiling. “I think I need to, like I said, hold my composure better, but it’s a gesture.”
Whether the NFL agrees is another story. And then there’s the matter of whether Manziel’s next on-field work will be as the starter or as Brian Hoyer’s backup — or whether Cleveland’s quarterback competition will continue to grind on, with neither Hoyer nor Manziel playing especially well on Monday night.