BEREA — It’s time for football, Johnny.
After months of having his off-field behavior analyzed, scrutinized and criticized, Johnny Manziel will again be the center of attention.
This time, though, it won’t be for swigging champagne on an inflatable swan but during his first NFL training camp as he and Brian Hoyer battle for the Browns’ starting quarterback job.
The Hoyer-Manziel showdown will dominate camp until someone is named the winner and that decision from first-year coach Mike Pettine will not come until the third exhibition game (Aug. 23).
Manziel earned his “Johnny Football” nickname during a stellar career at Texas A&M, where his daring, dazzling scrambles and improvisational skills made him a college star. It’s probably not going to be nearly as easy for him at this level.
The Browns drafted Manziel in the first round, selecting him to hopefully end a decade-plus problem at the game’s most vital position. It may be only a matter of time before Manziel unseats Hoyer, a career backup who started three games last season before tearing his right knee ligament.
Hoyer enters camp with a slight lead in the starter’s competition. It’s up to him to keep it.
A lifelong Browns’ fan, Hoyer, who has full medical clearance, is determined to hold off Manziel. The pressure will be immense as every pass, incompletion, interception and touchdown will be viewed and examined by media members and thousands of fans, who had to register online just to be able to watch practices this summer.
Cleveland fans appear divided over Hoyer — the hometown hero — and Manziel, the fun-loving curiosity.
The Browns, too, will feel some heat — from fans, TV networks, advertisers — to push Manziel along.
Let the duel begin.