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Browns owner: It’s ‘way too early to give up’ on Johnny Manziel

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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam had a lot to say about Johnny Manziel during a chat with the media Wednesday, including one confusing comment in which he claimed that the team was somewhat unaware of the quarterback’s off-the-field issues before drafting him. Those issues of course came to a head when Manziel announced announced the day after the Super Bowl he was seeking treatment.

Despite a rookie season that was mostly an unsuccessful affair on the field and fraught with drama off of it, Haslam nevertheless insists it isn’t yet time to declare the 22-year-old’s career a failure.

“I think it’s way too early to give up on him. We certainly haven’t given up on him and if it’s two years from now and Johnny hasn’t played any, or doesn’t have his personal life together, that’s different,” Haslam said, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “But it’s way too early. I think everybody’s way too harsh. He’s an easy guy to pile on and for everybody to give up on.”

Haslam insists Manziel has the support of the organization as he navigates through dealing with his personal issues, and added he believes Manziel can still be a starting quarterback in the league.

When asked why the Browns weren’t concerned about drafting Manziel given his history of problems — including how Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and Manziel’s parents insisted the quarterback meet with an alcohol counselor — Haslam strangely argued that not a lot of people were aware of Manziel’s issues at the time.

“Let me say this, I don’t know how much of Johnny’s personal life was known by everybody then and I don’t know how much is known now,” he said.

Haslam suggesting that Manziel’s off-the-field issues were not known seems to be a bit of stretch, which probably explains why the team later clarified Haslam’s curious comment via a spokesman who indicated that the team did its research on Manziel but nevertheless decided to spend a first-round draft pick on the brash young star in spite of what it learned.

But in the long run, Haslam simply hopes the young man can get his life in order off the field so that he can focus on his play on it.

“The spotlight on him is phenomenal,” Haslam said, via ESPN.com. “Some he brought to himself, some of it part of the persona of Johnny Football. I hope to heck he can get himself straightened out.”

(image source: Jason Miller/Getty Images)