BEREA, Ohio -- Although Johnny Manziel comes into the NFL with a reputation of being a polarizing figure, he wants to shed that image, be known as a good teammate and help the Cleveland Browns win.
After hearing owner Jimmy Haslam and coach Mike Pettine say he will begin his NFL career as a backup to starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, Manziel is okay with the plan because he guarantees to work hard and push for the top spot, but does not want to be handed anything.
"I took it in stride," Manziel said after Saturday's mini-camp practice. "I'm a rookie. I need to earn my place. I need to earn my keep. Nothing here needs to be handed to me. I don't need to be treated based on what I've done in the past because that doesn't mean a thing at this level. I was completely okay with hearing that from everybody. I don't want to have anything handed to me that I don't deserve."
When it comes to Manziel, humility is something that has been called into question since he became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. After his run to the Heisman in 2012, Manziel was embroiled in an NCAA investigation into whether he received money for signing autographs.
While he was cleared of wrongdoing, Manziel was suspended for the first half of Texas A&M's opening game against Rice for what was deemed "a violation of the spirit of the rules." When he entered the Rice game and threw a touchdown, he made a money signal with both of his hands, as he did after the Browns selected him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
But the brashness he showed on the field was the opposite of the humility Manziel displayed in addressing the media following Saturday's practice. The humility was something that was reinforced by having to wait nearly four hours to hear his name called, and watching fellow quarterback Blake Bortles come off the board first, in the first round of the NFL Draft last Thursday.
"I got passed up 21 times, so that says something," Manziel said. "As much as the success came early, things never came easy. Whether it seemed that way or whatever the case was, I had to work extremely hard to get to where I was and overcome a lot. People who think my path was to come in and play as a red-shirt freshman and not have any struggles, for me, it was tough. It was a long road.
"It's been a long road to get here, and to be passed up 21 times is never fun. Obviously, some of those teams weren't going to take quarterbacks, and we knew that going into it, but it's even humbling to be the second quarterback taken off the board. I don't think I need to be humbled. I know where I'm at in this organization, what I need to be doing, and that's all I'm really focused on."