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Johnny Manziel Maturing On An NFL Level?

Glenn Minnis

Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.
Johnny Manziel
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel feels contrite. And while that may be his saving grace it could prove to be the mortal demise of all his NFL opponents.

Johnny Football now readily admits he has made “rookie mistakes” that have nothing at all to do with learning his playbook and that have taught him invaluable lessons.

“At the end of the day, I’ve made some mistakes,” Manziel told ESPN on Friday as he officially marked his Cleveland Browns debut during the team’s training camp conditioning test. “There were some things I wish I could have gone back and done a little differently.”

And with good reason, Manziel’s shenanigans range from him flaunting and flossing at glitzy parties across the country and, according to the Northeast Media Group, rolling $20 bills in a Las Vegas bathroom in a way many associate with someone about to consume drugs.

But now all seems forgotten, if not forgiven, as the Browns are faced with the hardcore realization they need Manziel even more than they may care to openly admit.

“I’m not going to address individual incidents,” Browns coach Mike Pettine told ESPN when directly questioned about some of Manziel’s antics. “I know we’ve had a long offseason of all these other things. But now it’s time for football.”

And that’s what makes Johnny Manziel Johnny Football, makes him worth all the drama that always seems to follow him wherever he roams.

Manziel begins the season locked in a battle with reigning starter Brain Hoyer, but Manziel being Manziel, how long does anyone really think that will remain an open question? Either way, the 21-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner now stands as the face of the Browns franchise, and clearly that makes for some alluring times.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me going out and having a nightlife and a social life,” Manziel said of his off-field behavior. “I’m 21 years old, and it was the offseason and it’s free time for us.”

But when it comes to the gridiron, the former Texas A&M star has proven to be skilled and capable past his years. In just two seasons at A&M, he passed for 63 touchdowns and nearly 8,000 yards.

And still, he’s convinced that he can and needs to be more.

“I think there are definitely things I can do moving forward to help better act as a professional,” said Manziel. “At the same time, I’m still learning how to do that, still getting used to this role, still getting used to this league, still getting used to being a professional football player. I’m not in college anymore. There’s things I need to do better, and that’s just part of being a professional. Hopefully with time and going through this season and as time goes on I’ll get better at doing that.”