Manziel back as Browns pack away empty season


Tom Withers

AP Sports Writer

BEREA — Johnny Manziel showed up to assess the damage.

One day after the Browns fired coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer to conclude a miserable 3-13 season, Manziel returned to the team’s facility after being spotted in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Manziel was excused from being at the home finale against Pittsburgh because of a concussion, but owner Jimmy Haslam said the second-year quarterback failed to report for medical treatment for his head injury.

The Browns weren’t sure of Manziel’s exact location on Sunday, when USA Today reported the 23-year-old was in Vegas eating at a casino and even sitting down at a blackjack table.

It’s the latest drama surrounding Manziel, who has not delivered on expectations after being drafted in the first round in 2014.

According to several teammates, Manziel was in attendance for exit meetings and when Cleveland’s players were addressed Monday by Haslam and Sashi Brown, the team’s newly appointed head of football operations.

Manziel did not come into the locker room to speak with reporters.

“He’s his own man,” rookie defensive tackle Danny Shelton said of Manziel. “You can’t really tell him what to do.”

Haslam was non-committal about Manziel’s future with the team on Sunday, deferring any of those decisions to Brown, his next coach and GM. Manziel spent 10 weeks in a rehab facility in the offseason, and while he made six starts and showed improvement this season, he was also benched two games for misbehavior.

Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas was alarmed to learn that Manziel would chose to be in Vegas as the Browns wrapped up their season.

“If that’s a true report that’s obvious for him some things are more important than football and being a starting quarterback and that’s something that probably needs to be addressed in the offseason,” Thomas said.

Haslam intends to hire a coach — Cleveland’s eighth since 1999 — before getting his GM.

The Browns are in the process of lining up interviews and one of the first will be with Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Lions coach Jim Caldwell confirmed Monday that Austin will be meeting with the Browns sometime this week.

Following Sunday’s game, Thomas, who has already played for five coaches since 2007, said all the change has taken a toll on him and he’s not sure he wants to stay in Cleveland.

With more time to reflect, Thomas hasn’t changed his stance.

“I don’t think any of that changes, really, until you put a head coach in place and put a GM here and you get kind of the direction of the franchise from those guys,” he said.

Tom Withers

AP Sports Writer

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