Johnny Manziel's middle finger to the Washington sideline was funny. It was meaningless, and petty, but above all else, it was fun to see and share and talk about and hear Manziel and his coach be forced to explain. There's going to be a lot Manziel overkill this year, a lot of stupid controversies that will make you hate him and the media, with justification. But it's a Tuesday morning in mid-August, little else is happening in sports, and Johnny Manziel is a shit and a showman. Embrace this.
"It was hilarious," said Brian Orakpo, who appeared to be the ringleader of some pretty heavy Manziel taunting. "We were messing with him a little bit, just saying 'this ain't college' and stuff like that."
It had been Orakpo who, after a Ryan Kerrigan sack, threw up Manziel's "money" gesture.
(Kerrigan and Orakpo had discussed doing it beforehand, but Kerrigan said he "chickened out.")
Johnny Flipping Football said it was the constant trash-talk that finally got to him.
"I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play,'' he said. "I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up."
"I get words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week. I should've been smarter. It was a Monday Night Football game. The cameras were probably solidly on me, so I just need to be smarter about that."
Of course, had he been smarter about it, we wouldn't have gotten the real highlight of the night: Manziel being told by a Browns PR guy that his middle finger was going to become A Thing.
Manziel, when asked if he thought he'd be fined, replied, "I don't know how this works."
Mike Pettine knows how this works, and gave your standard, I'm disappointed in him answer.
"It does not sit well,'' said Pettine. "I was informed of it after the game. It's disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused, that you have to be able to maintain your poise.
"That's a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback. We have to keep our composure. That's something we'll obviously address.''
Pettine was probably secretly grateful for the mini-controversy—it'll keep him from having to talk too much about the performances of his quarterbacks, which were just awful. Manziel was 7-of-16 for 65 yards and a score; Brian Hoyer was 2-of-6 for 16 yards.
Pettine said he had hoped to name a starting quarterback today, but after last night's disasters, he may need another week. But come on, it's Manziel. In limited preseason action, he's already accomplished something the Browns haven't in a long time: he's managed to not be boring.