In 2007, the Cleveland Browns traded up to the 22nd pick to draft Notre Dame standout and Heisman Trophy finalist Brady Quinn. For Quinn, who grew up near Columbus, it was a childhood dream come true.
“It was a dream to grow up and play for the Cleveland Browns,” Quinn said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Things didn’t work out the way I quite wanted them to, but to have an opportunity to live out a childhood dream was unbelievable. I really tried to do everything I could at that time to prepare myself and do everything I could to be ready for that moment.”
He wasn’t. Quinn endured coaching changes, personnel changes and injuries, among other issues. He lasted three seasons in Cleveland and was traded to Denver in 2010.
“That’s kind of the way the league works,” Quinn said. “When things don’t go well, a lot of things change. A lot of things take a different course.”
Some of this was Quinn’s fault. Some of it wasn’t.
“It’s hard when you’re a quarterback and you have a lot of moving parts, whether it’s a new system, new coaching regime, new players and all that,” Quinn said. “It’s hard to get comfortable, and it’s hard to feel confident about what you’re trying to execute out there on the field.”
“I think a lot of the issues that I had in my game – at least during my time in Cleveland – were probably more mental. I was trying to be too perfect. I was trying to do exactly what was in the playbook instead of just playing the game in football, and it took me awhile to learn that.”
Enter Johnny Manziel. The Browns traded up to the 22nd pick this year to draft the Texas A&M standout and Heisman Trophy winner. Cleveland, of course, is hoping Manziel provides stability at the quarterback position for the next decade and beyond.
As Quinn can attest, however, its a two-way street. Manziel needs stability, too.
“You guys talk about Johnny Manziel and all this (off-the-field stuff) and how Mike Pettine doesn’t have an issue with it,” Quinn said. “Well, Mike Pettine might not, and he might go through this season and it might not be an issue. But if the Browns continue to have a short leash on these coaches and he gets fired after one year like Rob Chudzinski did last year, the next coach might have an issue with the way he handled himself off the field.”
Quinn believes Manziel’s skill set can translate to the NFL, mainly because he has an ability to make plays when things break down – sort of like Aaron Rodgers.
“He’s had a lot of stability around him,” Quinn said of Rogers. “I think that gives him a great amount of comfort where he knows everything like the back of his hand, so when something breaks down, he can create. He knows the non-verbal communication of his wide receivers – how they’re going to break, how they’re going to move. And you look at Johnny Manziel and the way he plays. He has those same attributes. He has the ability to make a play when you need to get something, whether it’s in third down, the red zone, (the) two-minute (drill) – he’s got that ability. I’ve always been a huge fan of his quarterbacking ability. I think he’s going to translate very well into the NFL and very well into a Kyle Shanahan system.”
But what about Manziel’s party lifestyle? He’s already said that he’s not going to change.
“Well, look, I’ll say this much: I respect the fact that he just stood by the guy that he is,” Quinn said. “My thing is, it’s such a different game. He hasn’t had the experience to really see that yet. Maybe in a year or two, he’ll look back and say, ‘Yeah, I could have toned that down.’ But look, he should go out and enjoy his life. He should have a fun time.”
But he should try to do it more privately.
“Do it in a way where you’re not saying profanity in front of the camera with a stack of money next to your ear when you play in a blue-collar town,” Quinn said. “I think that’s where it kind of rubs me the wrong way as a guy who not only played there, but I’m a fan. I’ll always be a fan of the Cleveland Browns. It’s where I grew up, where I came from, and I’ll continue to always root for them. That’s where it kind of bothers me the most. It just doesn’t really coincide with the type of people that are (in Ohio) – blue-collar, hard-working people who respect what they do as far as a career and how they make their money.”
Quinn said it’s not normal for NFL players to get drunk every weekend – especially quarterbacks.
“I don’t think (it’s normal) for a quarterback, but he could be a rare breed,” Quinn said. “He might be someone who can go out, work hard and then play hard too on the weekends. He might be able to get away with that. I just think it might catch up to him later on at the end of his career. It’s hard burning both ends of the candle.”