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Teammate: Manziel would be NFL’s ‘most popular guy’ if he flipped off Goodell

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At least one of Johnny Manziel’s teammates believes the second-year quarterback has what it takes to become one of the NFL’s most popular players. Throw in some wins and giving Commissioner Roger Goodell the finger likely would seal the deal, says Joe Thomas.

Asked if Manziel, who has attempted to rehabilitate his image during the offseason, has grown out of such antics, Thomas says how he performs counts the most.

“No, because it’s all going to come down to how he does on the field,” he said, via ESPN’s Pat McManamon. “If he goes and wins games and flips off the commissioner, he might be the most popular guy in the NFL.”

While suggesting that Manziel flips the bird at Goodell may seem like it came out of nowhere, the Browns’ Pro Bowl left tackle was referencing how Manziel flipped off the Washington Redskins bench during a preseason game last year.

Thomas, who has been hesitatingly critical and also supportive of Manziel, suggested that kind of brash cockiness can help endear pro athletes to fans.

“Here’s the thing in the NFL,” Thomas said. “You do things like that, and you win games and fans love you because of it. You become Joe Namath. People love him because he does that, right?

“That’s why they loved [Manziel] in college, because that’s how he played. If you don’t win and you play crappy and you do that stuff, people hate you because of it.”

Manziel has gone to great lengths to shed his “Johnny Football” persona after a troublesome rookie campaign, even annoucing that he is retiring his infamous “Money” gesture for good.

While the suggestion to flip off the commissioner was made in jest, Thomas arguably is correct that fans may love Manziel for pulling such a stunt, especially given how Goodell’s public approval ratings are in the dumps due to his arguably botched handling of the Deflategate saga.

What Thomas is trying to say most of all is that if Manziel plays well, everything else will take care of itself.

It still doesn’t make Manziel flipping him the bird a very wise move, though.