Johnny Manziel is already starting controversy on the football field in just his second preseason game in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns quarterback was caught on video giving the Washington Redskins the middle finger on Monday Night Football.
Manziel directed the obscene gesture towards the opposing team’s bench in the third quarter, following an incomplete pass. The rookie acknowledged that he made a mistake, and should have done a better job of maintaining his composure.
“I get words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week,” Manziel said after the game. “I should have been smarter. It was a Monday Night Football game and the cameras were probably solidly on me, and I need to be smarter about that.”
The first-round draft pick’s actions might have come out of frustration, as he didn’t perform as well as he did in his NFL debut. He completed just seven of his 16 pass attempts for 65 yards, though he did connect with Dion Lewis for a score. The previous week he threw for just two fewer yards on 11 pass attempts, and added 27 rushing yards.
The incident was captured on national television, and there’s a good chance that a fine will be heading Manziel’s way. In 2011, A.J. Hawk of the Green Bay Packers was fined $10,000 for giving the finger to his own teammates. A suspension isn’t likely for Manziel.
Manziel has done very little to stay out of the headlines, since Cleveland drafted him in May. He’s often been pictured partying with celebrities, and the Browns reportedly have not been pleased with the quarterback’s actions.
"I don't want to wear this subject out,'' Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said last month, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Johnny said it himself. He made some mistakes. We expect better from him. I'm sure he'll perform now. We're anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts."
Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine called the incident “disappointing” after Monday’s game, which saw the Browns lose by one point. Manziel continues to compete with Brian Hoyer to be the team’s starting quarterback in Week One of the 2014 NFL season.