Sealed With a Kiss

Johnny Manziel's wait in the NFL draft green room lasted two hours, 42 minutes before the Browns made the popular quarterback the 22nd overall selection. (Tomasso DeRosa/AP)
Johnny Manziel’s wait in the NFL draft green room lasted two hours and 42 minutes, before the Browns made the popular quarterback the 22nd overall selection. (Tomasso DeRosa/AP)

Johnny Football magnet.

Preamble to yet more words about Johnny Manziel, the 22nd pick in the NFL draft Thursday night: Between 7 p.m. and midnight Thursday, Twitter recorded approximately 2.5 million Tweets related to Manziel. In the same five hours, 519,000 Tweets were posted, combined, concerning LeBron James, the Miami-Brooklyn and Portland-San Antonio playoff games, and the NHL playoff games (Boston-Montreal, Anaheim-Los Angeles). Five times as many people Tweeted about Manziel alone as Tweeted about the four most important games of the night and the most charismatic athlete in America playing in one of the games—James. “That is a pretty wild stat,” Manziel said.

Now that I have your attention, let’s start this section at 9:33 p.m. Thursday, with the three permanently fixed cameras on Manziel waiting to show his reaction as commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the podium. To Manziel’s left in the green room backstage at Radio City Music Hall is his 33-year-old agent and confidant, Erik Burkhardt.

“With the 13th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft,” Goodell says, “the St. Louis Rams select Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh.”

Manziel does not like to let people see him sweat. He knew his every move on this night would be scrutinized closely. But the Rams passing on him hurt. Because now he thought he’d be in for a free-fall. He turned to Burkhardt, and sort of out of the side of his mouth, said this:

“E.B., we’re screwed.”

I asked him about this over the phone Saturday night, when he was back home in Texas for 24 hours of relaxation. “I did tell Erik that,” he said. “I felt that way, because there was so much uncertainty after that. I felt really good about St. Louis. My workout with them was great. They spent a lot of time getting to know me and researching me, and I did well when they put me on the board with coach [offensive coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer. So yes, I have to admit, I was a little surprised there when they passed on me.”

“But,” I said, “what about Dallas at 16? You didn’t think that might happen?”

“No, not really,” he said. “After talking to [owner] Jerry Jones a little bit, I understand why they wouldn’t. I felt it would be crazy for the state, for them, and for me. I thought the whole thing would be hectic. Plus, Tony [Romo] is so great. It just wouldn’t have been a great fit. I knew that, and Jerry knew it too, I think.”

As the picks went by, starting soon after the Rams chose at 13, Cleveland GM Ray Farmer worked the phones, trying to find a partner to move up from their second pick in the round (26th overall) to grab Manziel. He couldn’t find a fit. Finally, with less than three minutes to go in Philadelphia’s 22nd slot, Farmer heard this from an Eagles representative over the phone: “If you’re not gonna jump in here, we’re gonna trade the pick right now.” It’s cloudy what his offer had been to this point, but now he had to sweeten it, and he offered the 83rd pick overall, a third-rounder, in addition to their pick four slots lower than Philly. Done deal. The Eagles liked that offer better than an offer from Minnesota, because the Vikings would have been moving up from 40.

And so here’s Johnny. But the Browns must have really loved the Manziel tape—because his workout with Cleveland brass 19 days before the draft was a mess. On Good Friday night, Browns coach Mike Pettine, GM Farmer, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains went to dinner with Manziel and Burkhardt at a country club outside of College Station, near the Texas A&M campus. “We worked out 10 quarterbacks and ate with all of them,” Pettine said Saturday night. “That’s the only meal we didn’t pay for.” The workout was set for 8 a.m. Saturday morning, so the Clevelanders and Manziel could make it home comfortably for Easter. One problem: no receivers. So a high school buddy, Shanahan and Burkhardt—in jeans and sneakers—were the pass-catchers. After the workout, which included some clanks off Burkhardt’s hands, the agent said to Manziel: “I’ve seen you better.”

“I’d be better,” Manziel said with a laugh, “if you could catch.”

“One thing I liked about our meeting,” said Pettine. “We talked about being prepared to handle the pressure and the demands of being an NFL quarterback, and he told us, ‘I’m equipped to handle it. I think I’ve handled it already.’ I think he’s right.”

Manziel was in Cleveland Friday and got handed his playbook—on a tablet—and examined the playbook on his trip home from Cleveland. Having a playbook will be different for him, because A&M didn’t give out playbooks, just weekly game plans. “It’s a bigger league and a bigger deal,” he said. “But I’m preparing the same way I always would. It’s football.”

Now about everything else Cleveland …

What to do about Josh Gordon? Assuming Gordon is found to have tested positive in the NFL’s substance-abuse program (which ESPN reported Friday), he’ll likely be banned for somewhere between eight and 16 games. Gordon, 23, has been disciplined twice previously for testing positive: once by coach Art Briles at Baylor, and once by the NFL last summer, causing him to be suspended for the first two games of the season. Playing 14 games, he still led the league in receiving yards last year and was the first receiver in history to have back-to-back 200-yard receiving games, in weeks 12 and 13.

But now he could be more of a problem than he’s worth, the same way the immensely talented Justin Blackmon is turning out in Jacksonville. The Browns are trying to establish a winning program, and if they can’t trust their best player, which Gordon clearly is, they’re going to have a tough decision on their hands if and when he’s suspended, and when he returns. Gordon has two years left on his rookie contract. How can the Browns possibly know what to pay him in a second contract, having no idea if they can trust him from one week to the next? If Gordon did test positive, and knowing that a monster contract would likely be coming at the end of this season if he could stay clean, it’s either a measure of the depth of his problem or a measure of his immaturity. Or both.

• About passing on Sammy Watkins and all those receivers … Farmer told me that before the Browns made the trade with Buffalo to move from fourth to ninth in the first round, “We were very close to turning in the card. We very easily could have turned in the card with Sammy’s name on it.” I wondered if he would have regrets about passing on him and taking cornerback Justin Gilbert if Watkins turned into a Randy Moss-type talent. “Even if Sammy turns into Randy Moss, Justin Gilbert can be every bit as good as Patrick Peterson. That’s how much talent he has. And in the game today, I feel cornerbacks are as important as wide receivers, and maybe harder to find. So I have no regrets about it, no.”

Okay. But to get no receiver in a good crop of them, knowing you might not have Josh Gordon all season—and maybe forever—is the problem I have. When you start a draft with 10 picks and get zero wideouts, and have to rely on either a blockbuster trade for a veteran or signing a damaged-goods free-agent like Santonio Holmes or Miles Austin, that’s wrong. “It’s still a maybe [about the Gordon ban],” Manziel stiff-upper-lipped. “I firmly believe coach Pettine and Ray Farmer will address it and put us in the best position possible.”

Now, I want to be clear about the job Farmer did. I thought he had a very good draft, with that one large asterisk. He got first-, fourth- and sixth-round picks in 2015 as well as long-term starters at quarterback, cornerback and tackle (in his opinion); if that happens, it’s executive-of-the-year drafting. Farmer moved decisively and without fear. He knew he’d get criticized for not picking a receiver, and he’s ready for it. “I’ll be candid here,” he said. “The real position to get a receiver would have been at 35, and we thought of it. There were receivers there we liked a lot. But we loved [Nevada tackle] Joel Bitonio at 35. He was clearly the highest-rated player for us then. Not another guy of his caliber, or even close, there. We stayed true to our board. Then we hoped one of the receivers we liked would have fallen to 71, but they were gone then. That’s the heartbreaking part of the draft. You like so many guys, and they get picked, and you say, ‘There goes another one.’ It hurts, but you can’t have everyone you want.”

I support trading out of the fourth pick, particularly if it means you get two high picks next year and a corner you feel is the best in the draft. So I would have made that deal. If it were me, I’d have taken a Marqise Lee or Jordan Matthews instead of Bitonio.

• How soon will Manziel supplant Brian Hoyer? The good thing for Manziel is that Hoyer doesn’t have a huge head start on him in working with Kyle Shanahan and the new offense—just one month. I’d be surprised if Manziel doesn’t win the job before the Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh, but whether he does or not, it won’t be long before he’s under center for good. “We’re not handing him the job,” Pettine told me. “It’s going to be an open and fair competition, and the best man will win.”

• Memo to Dawg Pounders happy with the Manziel pick: Stop cursing Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi. Just stop it. Do you know how much those two men helped you draft Manziel? With Banner and Lombardi running the 2013 draft, the Browns traded their fourth-round pick to Pittsburgh in exchange for the Steelers’ third-round pick in 2014; that was the 83rd overall pick in this year’s draft. In September, Banner/Lombardi traded running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for the Colts’ first-round pick in 2014; that was the 26th overall pick in this year’s draft. On Thursday, Farmer traded those two picks—26 and 83 overall—to Philadelphia for the 22nd overall pick, the pick he used to draft Manziel.

One last point about Manziel: Imagine if he’d been drafted by the Rams at 13. Imagine the TV trucks, news helicopters, and Ellen DeGeneres and Deion Sanders and Chris Berman and Brian Williams at a May practice to see Manziel and Michael Sam. I think Sam’s in a good spot. Sam plus Manziel would have caused ESPN, NFL Network, Access Hollywood and Outsports to open news bureaus in the shadow of the Gateway Arch. Not too conducive to learning one’s trade.

So as much as Manziel must be questioning his weaponry now that Josh Gordon might be lost for the year, maybe the St. Louis thing wouldn’t have been any better. And don’t assume Manziel isn’t happy being with the Browns. I certainly don’t. He’s already fired up that Houston and Jacksonville, two teams that passed on him, are on Cleveland’s schedule this year. He seemed excited to start his me-against-the-world campaign in Cleveland this week.

Something he said, seriously, Thursday night when it was over and he was a Brown illustrates the fact that we’re dealing with a different cat here. “I kind of like the fact the Browns had the guts to pass on me twice, then come up to get me,” he said. It’ll be an interesting ride with Manziel for at least the next four years.

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903 comments
ShaneMac
ShaneMac

For the most part Mr. King, a pretty good article.  I am a man of no biases but my only complaint on the Michael Sam issue was not the immediate showing of the impact and emotion of the selection of Mr. Sam and his celebratory embraces with his partner, but with the latter tones of self-congratulatory behavior shown by the St. Louis Rams, the NFL, ESPN and now you, Mr. King.   We all knew whichever team that drafted or signed Mr. Sam were to be championed at breaking a tolerance barrier long overdue in an overt way in the NFL.  We finally know of one player in the midst of dozens that are perhaps trying to express that their choices are also acceptable.  It will be slow in coming in this league especially but there is hope.

So, now time for a joke.

ShaneMac
ShaneMac

If Sam Bradford married Michael Sam, he would be Sam Sam.

ColoradoVentura
ColoradoVentura

A film company I work with put together a funny parody about the NFL draft. Give it a watch and if you like it could you share it for us on Facebook or Instagram http://youtu.be/JoLgtM1dGSc and defiantly let me know what you think about it


EarlineJSmith
EarlineJSmith

ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴀs Rᴏᴅɴᴇʏ ɪᴍᴘʟɪᴇᴅ I'ᴍ ɪᴍᴘʀᴇssᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀ ᴘᴇʀsᴏɴ ᴄᴀɴ ᴇᴀʀɴ $4074 ɪɴ 4 ᴡᴇᴇᴋs ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ . ᴛʜɪs ʟɪɴᴋ 



J­ℴb­s­7­5­.­C­­O­M­------------work-at-home---

tdrurak
tdrurak

I find it unbelievable how much hatred there is in this world.  It's so sad.  That was a great article Peter.

Thomas15
Thomas15

Black Americans who don't tune in to michael sam's reality TV show every week are homophobes.

White Americans who don't tune in every week, are homophobes AND racists. 


And for the record: when human beings have a visceral reaction to a hissing snake, they don't HATE the snake per se. It is not a considered, contemplative action. It is not an intellectual action. They don't call them GUT-reactions for nothing.  But rather have in their DNA some lesson handed down by evolution through the centuries. Hissing snakes are dangerous. 


For that reason the vast majority of men who are repulsed sometimes to the point of physical sickness by the sight of a man kissing a man, or even the thought of it, are not evil homophobes, bent on persecution. Like the example of the hissing snake, they too have in their DNA some knowledge handed down by evolution; men kissing men is wrong. NOT morally wrong. Religion has nothing to do with this. I imagine it has to do with the survival of the species, just as the hissing snake does on a more individual level. 


But I refuse to be demonized because something turns my stomach. Either there's something wrong with me. Or there's something wrong with that behavior. I know which it is. And men should have to take a beating because they have the guts to say it out loud. 

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

I bet my wife that Michael Sam would be the lead, and we'd be beaten over the head with him by PK.  I win.

CGGymDog
CGGymDog

You know, one thing I would have liked to see Peter address was the antics of Jon Gruden on ESPN. As much as he was touting Manziel as The Next Big Thing, you'd have thought he was getting a fee from Manziel's agent. 

Buck2185
Buck2185

Peter, why you and other writers keep writing about the POS Sam is only making the problem worse. Wasn't the kiss, on national television, enough for you? Great lesson for our children. It is apparent you like that kind of thing since you can't stop covering it. Please do the majority of us a favor and go suck face with Sam in private and quit writing about him...

Jon1979
Jon1979

Since the Browns have said they don't expect Manziel to be their starting quarterback to begin the season, and since the Rams pretty much have their starting defensive ends set in place for 2014, come August 23 we could see the most media coverage ever of the fourth quarter of a preseason football game.


St Louis at Cleveland. First home game of the season for the Browns. First road game for the Rams and a final period where -- once the subs come in -- could see Michael Sam trying to chase down Johnny Manziel. They may not even both doing any highlights on SportsCenter that night of any part of the game before 10 p.m.

Catch2209
Catch2209

Why have cameras at a gay bar for the draft? My problem with the whole thing being played out on espn is as a white straight male can I have a white only straight bar? Gays get what they want, blacks have affirmative action, Hispanics get free health care. As a white married father where can I go? Can I open a white only bar for men who like women? Protesters would shut it down. I don't watch football with my son to watch black and white guys tongue each other. It was a sad day for America that this crap was on espn. It was the last place I expected it. Ufc here I come

Googie
Googie

Mr. King....the world can change and you can feast your eyes on two men kissing.....but for me and just about

anyone I know, I'll reach for the remote, or look the other way and have no guilt in doing so....Just because the

"world is changing" does not mean I have to accept it or praise it or believe in it.


SkokieDog
SkokieDog

"The world is changing, and the Rams and Sam and the NFL and ESPN made a seminal moment of it Saturday." 

Peter, I believe that your Freudian slip is showing. 

largebill68
largebill68

Peter, Some reporter needs to ask NFL about the disparity in their punishment system. Ray Rice beats his girlfriend unconscious and gets no punishment. Another guy smokes some weed and faces a year long suspension. Really? Is that how NFL views the two offenses?

vinskyvin
vinskyvin

This is no big deal , watching the fruit brute kissing his whatever, gross.He is a very sick man.my condolences to his family

davidhd
davidhd

Michael Sam being gay shouldn't be a story, but oh well, let those that care have a celebration. The only problem, for him, is that he was drafted by a team with a great young defensive line, and he might not play a whole lot, like many other 7th round picks. He might have been better off not being drafted, ironically, because he could have signed with a team with a less competitive defensive line situation. 

KevinBrown2
KevinBrown2

If we're not suppose to care about other people's sexual orientation, why do we obsess about a 7th round draft pick? Why would someone feel compelled to make a public statement about their sexual orientation, for that matter? Apparently Sam thinks we ought to care. If it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. You can't have it both ways.

madmanTX
madmanTX

The error in the Darvish near no-hitter wasn't a factor, so why mention it? That's a bit of saying "this is what my argument was going to be had my beloved Red Sox been no hit". You won't hear Ranger fans whining about Darvish not getting the no no. There's a reason why the rest of the county hates NY and Boston teams and their fans: whining.

daveg2011
daveg2011

OK enough about sam....is being gay the cool thing to be right now???

not right for 2 men kissing on national tv....what does that say to our youth??? not OK!!!!!

Mat X
Mat X

So a quip about New England loving slot receivers and no mention of Wes Welker?  Zzzzzzzzzz

leon1376
leon1376

Sorry, Peter King, "the world" is not changing - only Europe with a bearded woman singer and America with two men French-kissing. About a billion Muslims think the western world is slowly going insane. Ditto that for another billion Chinese a couple hundred million Russians. All the "two guys kissing" video has done is give Iran and al-Qaeda bulletin board material. 

Bahia
Bahia

peter king was really unique in the beginning when he wrote about stories that were behind the scene in the world of the NFL, but it's not simple anymore because of the nfl's popularity and political issues such as brain injuries, guns, political correctness, and acceptance of homosexuality. And he took a political stance based upon his personal belief for which he would be judged. i suppose you can read don banks if you want to avoid the politics, but peter king has now established himself as who he is.

Buck2185
Buck2185

@tdrurak What are you talking about? The article sucked, as does anything that comes from Peter....

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@Thomas15  Im scared of hissing snakes because they can be dangerous and I dont remember any white people being called racist for not watching "Homeboys in outer space." Im not going to watch Micheal Sam's or AJ McCarron's reality show. I dont think that makes me a racist homophobe.

el80ne
el80ne

@CGGymDog Dude, Gruden does that just about every year for the QBs he sees as the stars of the class. You should have heard him in 2012 when he was promoting RG3 and Russell Wilson. He kept ripping the Rams for sticking with Bradford and almost grawled with Kiper for his dissing on Wilson. Gruden's very passionate when he he falls in love with a QB he has on his camp.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@Catch2209  Here's a hint: white straight people can go to gay bars frequented by other races if they like.  They're not racist bigots.  You are.  

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Poor dear! I can't think of a white suburban community where you would have a problem finding a bar that has a white straight clientele. Why would you want one though? I feel sorry for your son.

Joss Wilson
Joss Wilson

@Googie  I bet you are one of these believers in "God." Newflash gay people are real, god isnt

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@largebill68  Ray Rice has not been punished yet. Who knows what will happen once the legal system plays out. There is no public video of Rice striking her either. Gordon has failed his second drug test with his employers. The penalty for Gordon is excessive but they have the proof in the urine sample.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@vinskyvin  And mine to yours, as well as your friend and anyone with whom you interact.  

Folsom49er
Folsom49er

@davidhd



I hope Sam makes the Team & contributes so we can get away from what has become the "Sam's World" Media Extravaganza!

I'm happy for him but My Lord he's getting more Pub than Clowney & Manziel put together!

Look forward to having this Circus end tomorrow for at least a few weeks after Sam's News Conference (on a 7th Rounder)

ChitownTexan
ChitownTexan

@madmanTX  my thoughts exactly. Errors are stupid anyway. If an old slow short stop can't get to a ball in the gap it's a hit, but if a young fast short stop gets there but can't make the difficult play then it's an error. Stupid. If a guy gets on, it should be a hit instead of some arbitrary judgement about what might have happened. 


Plus, if you're going to have errors they should account for a ball falling directly between two players who were close enough to make the play but erred in communication. If you were rooting against the no-hitter, then you want that play to be a hit. If you were rooting for it, you want it to be an error.



dgm2126
dgm2126

@madmanTX  I dunno, Red Sox and Yankees have five titles between them since the turn of the century, to Texas' none ever. Maybe that's why you hate them. 

acieearl
acieearl

@daveg2011  It says that it is OK to love someone unconditionally, if you cannot explain that to your son, daughter or any other "youth" it is your problem.

dgm2126
dgm2126

@leon1376  So you're saying your on Al-Qaeda's side, basically. 

acieearl
acieearl

@leon1376  Good point, I guess we should consider al-Qaeda's feelings the next time two men or women kiss on television.  Make sure you don't look at the Swimsuit issue when it comes out we don't want Ayman al-Sawahiri to find out.

bofureturn
bofureturn

@leon1376  i guess king thinks the world means a few hundred million white western liberals.

leon1376
leon1376

@Bahia  Peter King has always been part of the Nancy Pelosi wing of the loony left. When I used to read him I'd be amused at how he'd work Man-made Global Warming or an anti-gun sneer into seemingly every article. He always struck me as being something of a pretentious, full of himself, supercilious fop. An American Piers Morgan, if you will. Imagine how thrilled he's going to  be when the first Conchita Wurst look-alike cheerleader shows up on the Cowboys sidelines. Gay and transvestite cheerleaders in the NFL! Woo-hoo!  

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@Bahia  Yeah, it's amazing the anger people voice in the comments here.  There are lots of football writers - if King's opinions make you that angry, why are you here?  Some of these people are just crying for attention.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@vinskyvin  That should've been "friends".  The implication that you only have one friend, while quite possibly accurate given your unpleasant commentary, was accidental.

davidhd
davidhd

@VanHayhow @KevinBrown2  I agree with Kevin Brown 2, and here's why: 10 years ago, Michael Sam's coming out would have been courageous and newsworthy, but now? 


Nowadays an NBA owner loses his team for making a private racist comment, we have several openly gay athletes in other sports who are not only free from any public or private backlash, but are actually celebrated and applauded, we have gay rights marches in every city, we have gay marriage winning every court battle and those that oppose it being marginalized and shouted at in the media, with their churches being vandalized and their beliefs shamed, and being anti gay is far more likely to get you into trouble than actually being gay. I'm glad to live in a time with this type of acceptance and tolerance for all different cultures, lifestyles, and orientations, and I'm happy about all things peaceful and loving, but don't tell me someone is "courageous" for coming out nowadays.


Michael Sam came out at a time when coming out is celebrated, applauded, respected, and popular. He did nothing but help himself by doing so, and he probably wouldn't have been drafted otherwise. 



acieearl
acieearl

@leon1376 @Bahia  newsflash, there are plenty of lesbian/bi-sexual female cheerleaders in the nfl already. Are you oppose to them or only when men kiss?

MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

@Go_Niners! @Bahia King's opinions don't make these dimwits angry.  These dimwits are angry 24 hours a day.  They thrive on anger.  Listen to conservative hate radio and anger is basically all you get.


I think they're mad because their kind is going down the road to extinction.  Think of them as dodo birds.

el80ne
el80ne

@davidhd @VanHayhow@KevinBrown2I'm not sure I agree. So what that they've come out in other sports? The barrier hadn't been broken in football, considered the most physical and 'alpha' of the major American sports. You're right that right now is a time when this stuff is being celebrated and applauded, but that's only by a vocal minority in the news media blowing it up. The reason they do is because it's still a shock to a lot of people, as you can tell here on this thread. Until it gains mainstream acceptance then to treat it as 'no big deal' when clearly most of society has other ideas, isn't being cognizant of the reality.

DoAStrikeout
DoAStrikeout

@RS#20 @MoeLarryAndJesus @Go_Niners! @Bahia  It's Judeo not Jew Dao. Look up the word Dao for some further context on why this is funny to me and others who know the word :D.


Also, the word Judeo in the term Judeo-Christian, which I think is what you were going for but missed, refers only to the Jewish half of the equation. 

RS#20
RS#20

@MoeLarryAndJesus @Go_Niners! @Bahia  I am a conservative Christian I guess what you would call a Dodo bird. From the handful of your posts I've read all I see from you is name calling, snide remarks and anger. And from your strong defense of Peter King I'm thinking you may be gay yourself. Whether you are or not, just think about living as a gay person in a country that has not been influenced by Jew Dao/

Christian values. 


You'd probably miss us Dodo birds then.

ShaneMac
ShaneMac

@RS#20 :   It's Judeo/ Christian values.  You're welcome.

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