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Mike Pettine calls Johnny Manziel incident ‘unfortunate,’ says QB is a ‘true professional’

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With the Cleveland Browns presumably still in the process of “gathering additional information in order to gain a complete understanding of what occurred” (per Browns GM Ray Farmer’s statement Monday) regarding a late-night incident involving Johnny Manziel, head coach Mike Pettine nevertheless went to bat for the rookie quarterback.

“I’ve had a talk with Johnny,” Pettine said during an appearance on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” radio program, via Pro Football Talk. “He was very up-front with us and notified us immediately when it occurred.”

Pettine then praised Manziel for the way he conducts himself on the football side of things, yet expressed some displeasure at Manziel finding himself in the middle of yet another distracting off-the-field incident.

“As far as in the building, he’s been a true professional, he’s done everything that’s been asked of him,” Pettine said. “But obviously this is something that’s unfortunate.”

Pettine also mentioned a very old, yet very insightful, adage about being out late at night.

“We’re never comfortable … with guys being involved in incidents that late at night,” Pettine said. “There’s a saying in the league, ‘Nothing good happens after midnight.'”

Pettine previously has expressed understanding and support for the young player, saying he could “sense” Manziel’s frustration with not playing.

Manziel has been accused of being involved in an ugly brawl early Saturday morning. The alleged victim, Chris Gonos, 33, told police that he was “assaulted” by the quarterback’s “entourage” after approaching him at an elevator in an apartment complex.

“I’m the biggest Browns fan ever, I love you, I want to give you a hug,” Gonos reportedly said to Manziel, according to the police report.

Gonos then claims he was punched in the face by a member of Manziel’s party, resulting in “swollen lip, right eye swollen, red face.” Gonos also claims that Manziel “sucker-punched” his brother.

The entire fracas, occurring at 2:36 a.m., allegedly involved 20 men and two security guards and was described as a “riot” in the police report.

Additional comments from Gonos were obtained by CleveScene.com:

“Yeah, it actually all started through me. We had a room — it was my brother’s birthday — so we were staying at the Metropolitan at the 9. We partied there, and at the end of the night I was going back up to my room, and I noticed the guy. I was like, ‘Man, that’s Johnny Manziel.’ They were trying to keep it quiet, keep it low, and I was like ‘Johnny Football!’ I was just excited. But anyways, I went to give him like a handshake, or dap or whatever you want to call it, one of his buddies like tackled me. It was going down, a whole bunch of people started fighting. It ended pretty quick.”

“I got a bruised hip and a bruised elbow, and somebody hit me in the back of the head, too. My brother saw what was going on and he ran he tackled Johhny Manziel — I guess he got the sack and the fumble. He tackled him, yeah, I’m talking about he speared him all the way to the back wall. I was cornered; I was by myself and Johnny Manziel and like three or four of his buddies were all coming at me. (My brother) just came to help me out, and I guess Johnny sucker punched him while the security guard was holding him. It should be all on video.”

“No [one was arrested], like 20 officers came and I was sitting in the lobby because I did not do anything wrong but be a fan. All these cops run into the lobby, and they’re like, “Who was fighting, who was fighting?” and I just raised my hand, and was like, listen, watch the camera, and stuff like that. I may be guilty of being a fan, but that’s about it. I even showed them the guy that sucker punched me and the cops walked right up to him, talking to him for a while, and they let us all go. They just told me I had to leave the hotel, and me and my ride, we left. Manziel never punched me, but he got a sucker punch on my brother.”

“I know somebody else in the group smashed Johnny right in the face. Smashed him, smashed him. I watched the whole game to see if we could spot him on the sidelines.”

Manziel’s agent issued a statement Monday vehemently denying the alleged victim’s allegations:

“Johnny and his roommate had been out to dinner earlier in the evening with Johnny’s mother, who is staying with him this week,” said agent Erik Burkhardt in a statement.

 “There was no entourage.  Johnny and his roommate were trying to get on the apartment elevator at his home when they were accosted by a very aggressive man and his associates.  It was an unfortunate situation and he immediately let (Browns general manager) Ray Farmer and the team know what happened.”

Manziel’s apparent inability to avoid ugly off-the-field issues clearly doesn’t appear to be a thing of the past. This is an issue that first emerged as it relates to Manziel’s young career with the Browns all the way back in training camp, when team officials reportedly were “alarmed” by the quarterback’s partying. This latest incident certainly isn’t going to silence the organization’s concerns.