So because the chatter in the media is that the Cleveland Browns picked Johnny Manziel at the direction of owner Jimmy Haslam, the Browns are forced to say it’s not so.
"I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Jimmy Haslam at no point demanded, requested, tried to influence the process in any way,'' general manager Ray Farmer said in a news conference on Saturday (via Cleveland.com). "He definitely asked questions, he’ll definitely give his opinion of what he thinks and all of those things are fine. But at the end of the day, he trusted the football staff to make the decisions that we thought were the right decisions for this football team.''
That’s not going to stop observers from believing that the owner wanted Johnny Football and that’s why Manziel went to the Browns. At Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio characterizes Farmer’s remarks this way: “The Browns are trying harder and harder to convince anyone and everyone that Haslam had nothing to do with it.”
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Plus, Florio says, Haslam didn’t have to issue an explicit “Draft Manziel” (like the homeless person told the owner) to the Browns front office. Everyone would know what the boss wanted.
“Owning the team means not having to demand, request or try to influence the process,” Florio writes. “His mere involvement in the process necessarily will influence it, whether he tries to or not.”
If Manziel turns into a star a few years down the line, no one will remember this Haslam talk. But if the quarterback is a bust, you can expect to hear it again and again.