Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel was ripped to shreds in the media after he was spotted making an obscene gesture toward the Washington Redskins sideline during an Aug. 18 preseason game at FedEx Field in Maryland, according to an Aug. 19 report from ESPN.
WFAN morning show host and former NFL quarterback, Boomer Esiason, called Manziel a "baby," after "Johnny Football" was caught by cameras flipping the middle finger in the general direction of the Redkins' bench following an ugly third-quarter interception.
Radio talk show and sports television hosts across the nation echoed Esiason's sentiments about Manziel, essentially saying the former Aggie needs to show some more maturity if he's ever going to have success in the NFL. Even Browns coach Mike Pettine was disappointed with the 21-year-old's actions, as he explained during the post-game presser that it didn't sit well with him that Manziel flipped off the opposing team after he was taunted.
Manziel's controversial actions are going to cost him, as he's expected to be slapped with a hefty $11,025 fine for his gesture. Since it would be his first fine in the league, he'll be allowed to appeal, which could cut the fee almost in half.
Here's the thing: Manziel, who went 7-for-16 for 65 yards, knows full well that he screwed up, and he did his part to make things right by apologizing for his actions during a post-game scrum with the media. A learning curve is to be expected as the young man transitions from college to the pro ranks, so Manziel deserves a pass for this incident.
He is clearly growing both as a quarterback and as a person, right before the eyes of football fans across the world. Manziel showed maturity by owning up to his preseason mistakes, not long after he committed them. Isn't that what the preseason is meant for? The NFL gives each team four weeks to prepare for the regular season, and part of the process includes getting rookies acclimated to life in the professional ranks.
Some athletes are able to adjust instantly, while others need a bit more time. There's nothing wrong with Manziel making a slow adjustment into becoming a high-level professional. No matter how you slice it, there's no excuse for Manziel making an obscene gesture toward the Redskins sideline during a televised game. It isn't a good look for his team, for the league and for his family.
But this is a guy who realized right away what he did brought negative attention to the Browns organization. He quickly apologized, and answered all questions the media asked of him in a calm, professional manner.