BEREA — The message in his draft-night text – wreck this league — was trending on Twitter on Friday.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel said he didn’t notice.
“I’ve been busy,” he said Saturday after a rookie minicamp practice.
Cleveland quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains started a firestorm across the Internet and among Browns fans late Thursday and into Friday after he told an Arkansas radio station about a text message he received from Manziel urging the Browns to trade up and draft him because, “I want to be there. I want to wreck this league together.”
“As soon as that happened, Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam said, ‘All right, pull the trigger. We’re trading up to go get this guy,’” Loggains said.
The Browns traded up from No. 26 to acquire No. 22 from Philadelphia and pounced on Manziel. He downplayed the significance of “wreck this league.”
“I don’t know if that’s exactly word for word,” Manziel said. “But it was something along those lines.
“Whenever it is I get a chance to play, I don’t want to come in and be mediocre. So to have success you need to do some good things and that’s more what I was talking about than coming and dominating as a rookie, it wasn’t that talk at all. It was coming in and trying to win some games if I’m going to be here and if I get the opportunity to play.”
Manziel said he wasn’t surprised the phrase had already found itself on T-shirts. But he didn’t think a simple text was headline-worthy.
“I wouldn’t call it exactly legendary,” Manziel said. “I felt I had a good relationship with Coach Loggains and he was probably one of the only people to text me while the draft was going on and he kind of let me know there was some opportunities to try and get me in an earlier slot. So this was a place that I felt comfortable with and liked Coach Shanahan (Kyle, coordinator) and liked the situation here and so I wanted to come here and if they wanted to take me and were trying to get me earlier, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Manziel was asked if the Browns were the only team he texted that night.
“After I got past a certain point, there was a spot where we thought we might come off of (the board),” he said. “So the more of the hurry up was ‘another team we have heard is going to come up, maybe you guys don’t know that.’ There really wasn’t that much more to the conversation than a couple little threads.”
Coach Mike Pettine said he knew Loggains was going to do the interview and didn’t sound like he had reprimanded Loggains for divulging too much inside information.
“The text message absolutely did happen because in the draft room, when I got it, I questioned Dowell as to whether he made the text up himself in order to get us to turn the card in,” Pettine said. “There were three players — I’m not going to go into the names; Johnny was one of them — that we targeted after we picked (cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8) that were potential high-value guys for us. As the round continued to progress, one of the guys went that was getting close to the Eagles’ pick, when we knew that there was a pretty good chance that we were going to be able to jump up and take that spot. Then the other player went, and we knew that quarterback was a position that we were targeting and that Johnny was our top quarterback on the board.
“There was some excitement in the room building because we felt that we were close to getting him. When Dowell sent me the text that he wanted to come to Cleveland, I think that it just really added to the excitement in the room and were fired up to turn the card in.”
The other targets for the Browns may have been inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who went No. 17 to Baltimore, and receiver Brandin Cooks, who went No. 20 to New Orleans.
Cornerback Pierre Desir might be the most grateful of the six draft picks. The fourth-round selection (No. 127 overall) finished at tiny Lindenwood in Missouri after transferring to be closer to home. He spent a year without a scholarship and worked to pay for school and support his wife and two kids.
“They were long (days), they started at 5 a.m. and ended at 10 or 11 at night,” Desir said. “I worked, went to school, went to football practice. Worked minimum-wage temp jobs, hard-labor jobs, I did whatever I had to do to pay for school and provide for my family.”
The temp jobs were rough and he picked out the worst.
“It was during flood season in Missouri and we were in an apartment complex,” said Desir, who was born in Haiti. “Excuse my French, but I had to clean human feces. I had to take out furniture, clean out the water. They gave us knee-high boots, but the water was knee level. That was the worst one.
“Got $40 out of it, but I did it. I look back at it. It’s not something I want to do again.”
ALMOST A RAVEN
The Browns drafted Towson running back Terrance West at pick No. 94 after trading their sixth-round selection (No. 180 overall) to move up from No. 106. It’s a good thing they made the jump.
“(The Ravens) texted my agent and told him they were going to take me at the 99th pick,” West said. “The Browns came up before them and I’m here now. It’s all about the Browns, man.”
West is from Baltimore and went to nearby Towson. He grew up a Ravens fan and called Jamal Lewis his favorite Baltimore running back.
He was asked if he had hoped to stay at home.
“It didn’t really matter,” he said. “I’m a leader. I focus on the goal and that’s football.”
But he didn’t try to hide his excitement for the rivalry with the Ravens that includes two meetings a year.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Can’t wait.”
West (5-foot-9, 225 pounds) rushed for 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior. He will wear No. 20.
Inside linebacker Christian Kirksey was excused from practice to attend his graduation from the University of Iowa. His major was leisure studies.
Kirksey practiced Friday on the opening day of minicamp and is expected back today. He should challenge incumbent Craig Robertson for the starting spot next to Karlos Dansby.
- Former Ohio State linebacker Larry Grant (6-1, 251) is in camp on a tryout. There are other players on tryouts who’ve been in the league, but Grant is the most experienced with five years and 68 games.
- The Browns invited 35 players for tryouts, mostly rookies. Pettine said he expects to sign a couple.
- Receiver Charles Johnson, who was signed off Green Bay’s practice squad last season then quickly went on injured reserve when a torn anterior cruciate ligament was discovered, is attending camp but he’s not ready to practice.