Rookies embrace Manziel's celebrity

BEREA, Ohio -- "To whom much is given, much is expected."

That quote from the Gospel of Luke could be a tall task for Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel to live up to because he has been given a lot of media attention and fan support since becoming the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy.

And while the attention the media and fans have paid to Manziel has caught the ire of veteran running back Ben Tate, those in the same draft class as the former Heisman Trophy winner do not take exception to the celebrity status.

"I'm used to it, especially him being in the quarterback role," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "He's a nice guy. I've been around him in the locker room and he's an easy guy to like. I kind of expected him to have a standing ovation, and it's just fun to see kids have a good time and excitement on their faces.

"No jealousy at all. I'm a defensive player and a lot of offensive players have that spotlight, so I'm used to that."

Like Manziel, cornerback Justin Gilbert was a first-round pick of the Browns last month. Although Gilbert was chosen ahead of Manziel, he has had to follow the quarterback, including during introductions to a crowd of students at a recent community.

"It's a tough job, but I'm getting used to it though, day-by-day," Gilbert said with a smile. "I'm taking it slowly, but this is a wonderful experience."

Gilbert likes to joke that he was selected 14 spots earlier than Manziel, and that because the former Heisman Trophy winner still attracts more attention than he, it allows him to focus on the task at hand.

"That's just the world we live in," Gilbert quipped. "I know my role and I'm just playing it well right now. I'm just playing football and focusing on doing what I have to do to make this team successful.

"I just sit back and laugh at it most of the time because he's getting all the attention, and he's trying to shy away from it most of the time, but it always seems to find him."

But when the attention does come Gilbert's way, he embraces it and appreciates the support from the fans.

"I didn't think people would know my face, but I was at the mall yesterday and said, 'Are you Justin Gilbert?'" Gilbert recalled. "I'm like, 'Yeah.' I'm just getting used to it. I used to lie to people and say, 'No, but people say we look alike.' I've gotten used to it. I love it, the support system that we have here. A lot of teams don't have that, and it's good to be here."


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment