ESPN football analyst Merril Hoge is the latest NFL pundit to question Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel’s ability to perform in the league. The former running back said on Wednesday that “Johnny Football” has “no business” playing in the league.
Hoge ripped Manziel while discussing the hometown Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 1 matchup with the Browns on Pittsburgh’s WDVE-FM radio station. “If you’re the Steelers’ defense, you want No. 2 [Manziel] to walk out on that field,” he said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “You want him on that field. He has no business being on the field right now. This is the one thing that probably burns me more about our league, the NFL, than anything is when a player like Johnny Manziel is drafted based on hype and excitement, not a true football skill.”
He went on to compare Manziel to Tim Tebow, another former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with a large fan base. Hoge criticized Tebow’s skill set extensively during his time in the NFL.
“[Manziel] really had no business being drafted in the first round,” Hoge said. “When I was doing the draft and I was going through and studying him. I actually got done and it’s the first time, aside from when Tim Tebow came out, there’s nothing, nothing he does that transitions to the National Football League. There’s not one skill set he had where you say ‘Gosh, he’s a first-rounder.’ Really nothing.”
Later, Hoge had harsh words for Manziel’s draft-day declaration to Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains that they would team up to “wreck this league.”
"That didn’t just burn players; it infuriates coaches,” Hoge said. “It told you, too, that he’s a juvenile punk. He was like that, and he’s still like that.”
When asked about Hoge’s comments, Manziel declined to fire back at the ESPN analyst. “Stuff pops up on my phone and I happened to see something,” he said. “He’s been in the opposite corner of me for a while now, so all I can really do is go out and try to prove him wrong. He’s entitled to every bit of his opinion.
Hoge isn’t the first analyst to criticize Manziel. In August, former NFL quarterback and league MVP Boomer Esiason said that Manziel is “not even remotely close to being ready” to start for the Browns. “If he opened as the starting quarterback at Pittsburgh in Week 1, he would get his ass kicked,” he said on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” morning radio show.
However, Esiason took to Twitter on Wednesday to distance himself from Hoge’s comments:
— Boomer Esiason (@7BOOMERESIASON) September 3, 2014