Jason La Canfora: ‘Manziel Is Shy, Eats By Himself’
John Feinstein vowed not to talk about Johnny Manziel until the rookie quarterback at least played in a game – preseason or otherwise – but with Jason La Canfora at Browns camp this week, Feinstein couldn’t resist.
So, Mr. La Canfora, what are your thoughts, observations and revelations regarding Johnny Football?
“I think the most interesting thing that I’ve picked up is how quiet he is around the building,” the CBSSports.com NFL insider said on The John Feinstein Show. “Most people tell me he’s actually shy. (In the) cafeteria, a lot of times he’s eating by himself. (He) very much keeps to himself and is still trying to figuring out how to integrate himself into the group.”
“So for someone who has such an outsized, life-is-a-party identity when it comes to Las Vegas, (Manziel is) very much a rookie within these walls. I won’t say (he’s) isolated, but (he) certainly hasn’t really developed a group of guys around him. Brian Hoyer will be eating lunch with the whole offensive line. It’s not that people aren’t including Johnny, but I think there’s a little bit of a feeling-out process that’s going on. So he conducts himself very differently within this facility than he does outside it.”
It’s worth noting, Feinstein said, that we really don’t know Manziel. He was very much protected from the media at Texas A&M, and he really hasn’t done any sit-down or one-on-one interviews. Yes, we know Manziel likes to party, but we really don’t know what kind of person he is. When he talks, it’s almost always at a press conference, and he’s almost always saying all the right things.
But if you’re the Browns, aren’t you wondering why your first-round quarterback is eating lunch alone? Even if Manziel is shy, wouldn’t some of his teammates reach out to him and tell him to join their table? Or maybe just sit down with him at his?
“I just think he’s trying to find common ground with different guys,” La Canfora said. “His college experience was very different than a lot of the young guys here. I think some guys are like, ‘I’m just going to leave him alone. He’s Johnny Football.’ And I think he’s kind of like, ‘I’m not trying to be the man. I have to earn being the man. So I’m not just gong to go sit down at the cool kids’ table and start talking like I own the place.’ I think a lot of it is natural, and certainly some of it is heightened by how much (of the) spotlight is on him, particularly on weekends.”
This isn’t just a feeling-out process for Manziel, either; it’s also a feeling-out process for the Browns. After all, if Manziel is the backup quarterback, does he really need to be talking to media very often, much less every day?
“They don’t want it to be a Tim Tebow situation where everybody’s figuring out (that he’s) not going to get on the field any time soon – and maybe never – and yet everyone is there to talk to him,” La Canfora said. “Now, Johnny’s a much better quarterback (than Tebow). Johnny will get on the field. I don’t think he’s starting Week 1, but they’ll find packages for him early on. Maybe by Week 8 or Week 6 he’s starting. I think it’s a lot for the team to manage as well.”
Staying in the AFC North, Andrew Bogusch wants to know how NFL VP Adolpho Birch not only claimed he was unaware of the backlash regarding the perceived leniency of Ray Rice’s two-game suspension, but also how he could be so cocky in defending it.
“I can’t (reasonably) explain much of what’s gone on from the league office,” La Canfora said. “I can’t explain why the Ray Rice decision took as long as it did. I can’t explain why it came down the way it did. I can’t fully explain why I’m here in Cleveland and Josh Gordon is practicing with the team and within 48 hours might be told you’re banished from the league for a year. I can’t explain the Draconian pot policies. I can’t explain the relatively lax policy toward personal-conduct issues that involve domestic abuse and alleged abuse of women. I can’t explain why Adolpho was sent out there and not the commissioner himself. I don’t have an explanation for (any of) it.”