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Sportress of Blogitude

Johnny Manziel flips off Redskins bench, calls it a ‘lapse of judgment’ (GIF)

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If Johnny Manziel wants to leapfrog Brian Hoyer and claim the starting quarterback position with the Cleveland Browns, he will need to put on a much better performance and demonstrate far greater composure than he did during the team’s 24-23 loss on Monday night to the Washington Redskins.

As Manziel returned to the huddle late in the third quarter, the rookie quarterback, in something he later referred to as a “lapse of judgment” made a quick, backwards middle-finger salute towards the Redskins bench over his shoulder as he trotted away.

Manziel, who has been caught on camera flipping the bird in a well-circulated image at least one other time, expressed regret for the gesture after the game.

“I get words exchanged throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week, and I should’ve been smarter,” Manziel said. “It was a ‘Monday Night Football’ game and cameras were probably solid on me, and I just need to be smarter about that. … It’s there, and it’s present every game, and I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play.”

Browns head coach Mike Pettine, not surprisingly was left unimpressed by Manziel’s extracurricular activities.

“It does not sit well,” he said. “It’s disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused. … That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback.”

It wasn’t any better performance-wise for Johnny Football, either. He struggled mightily in his time in the game, going 7-16 for 65 yards. He did throw an eight-yard touchdown pass that capped a nice 16-play, 68-yard drive, but it was against Washington backup players.

Hoyer did not take advantage of Manziel’s middle finger miscue and related struggles. In fact, he arguably played worse than his perceived understudy, completing 2 of 6 passes for 16 yards after being named Monday’s starter.

Hoyer did not mince words when he characterized his performance after the game.

“It probably couldn’t have been any worse,” he conceded. “It’s disappointing. It was embarrassing.”

Pettine’s decision at who will start come Week 1 did not get any easier given the woeful performances by both quarterbacks. He even said he may back off his original plan of naming the team’s starter this week.

“All the options are still on the table,” Pettine said.

As far as the Manziel Middle-Finger-Gate is concerned, it is probably much ado about nothing. Sure, it shows a lack of maturity, but how often do these kind of shenanigans occur during a typical game just are not caught by cameras?

The rookie signal-caller was on the receiving end of some gesture-based taunts as well. After being sacked by Ryan Kerrigan in the first quarter, Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo  directed Manziel’s trademark “money” gesture at the quarterback.

You could say turnabout is fair play. Both for Orakpo’s taunting and Manziel’s middle finger salute. The only difference is the world’s eyes are on Manziel, watching his every move and making knee-jerk judgments about everything from his character to his maturity to his ability to be a competent NFL quarterback. Flipping an opposing team’s bench certainly won’t help silence the naysayers.

(GIFs via the estimable CJ Fogler)