Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is second on the Browns’ depth chart, but No. 1 in the NFL in one statistic.
Manziel’s No. 2 was the most popular jersey sold on NFL.com from April 1-Thursday.
Manziel has yet to take a professional snap and enters training camp this week trailing veteran Brian Hoyer in the competition for the starting spot, but led Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Russell Wilson (No. 2), Peyton Manning (No. 4), Tom Brady (No. 7), Drew Brees (No. 8) and Aaron Rodgers (No. 9) in jersey sales.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was No. 3 and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman No. 5.
St. Louis’ Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted, is the only other rookie in the top 10, ranking sixth.
Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (No. 13), Houston outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (No. 16) and Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles (No. 18) were the other rookies in the top 20.
Manziel was the only Browns player in the top 20.
Manziel was the No. 22 pick after the Browns moved up four spots in a trade. He’s parlayed his popularity at Texas A&M into numerous endorsement deals since he turned pro.
Manziel burst onto the national scene in 2012 as a redshirt freshman with his thrilling style and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. His success and style on the field is enhanced by his national celebrity — he hangs out with Drake and LeBron James and is a regular on TMZ — and his bad-boy reputation.
“Just more than anything probably the style of play, it was like watching some of the people that I tried to model my game after and it happened on Saturdays when we went out there and it was fun to watch A&M play,” Manziel said in May when asked why he’s so popular. “We had nationally televised games. We were always on TV. That probably factors in. Then with social media and how that is now, it’s kind of easier nowadays to expand — I don’t know if brand is the right word — who I was as an athlete.”
The focus returns to football this week after an offseason of partying, appearances on TMZ and controversial pictures. Rookies are scheduled to report Wednesday, with the first full-squad practice set for Saturday morning.
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