Jerry Jones says he came ‘that close’ to drafting Johnny Manziel


In Cleveland, Johnny Manziel does what he’d have done in Dallas — wait his turn at quarterback. (Mark Duncan / AP)

The first round of the NFL draft went on and on in early May, with Johnny Manziel’s name drawing tantalizingly closer to that of the Dallas Cowboys.

Would The Big Cowboy, owner/General Manager Jerry Jones, resist the impulse to pull the trigger and take Manziel with the 16th pick? Remarkably — and deflatingly for internet enthusiasts — he did. But it was awfully close.

“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close,” Jones told the NFL Network (via StarTelegram.com’s Clarence E. Hill. “I looked over to my son, Stephen . . . and I said, ‘I took the right pick.  [Zack Martin] was the top player by three players on our board at the time that we were sitting there looking at [Manziel]. … The question was, ‘Could we make it work with Tony Romo during the period of time that we are going to have Tony?’ And by the way, my expectations are that Tony will be our quarterback several years to come as we move along.”

So Johnny Football went to the Cleveland Browns, where the coach says he will bide his time behind quarterback Brian Hoyer. Stephen Jones declined to reminisce about the night on which the Cowboys did not draft Manziel, but his father had no such reluctance.

“Manziel is special,” Jones said.  “I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League, and it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably have for the rest of my career think about.”

Imagine, though, the circus that would have erupted had Manziel, with his Instagrammin’, Bieberin’, partyin’ ways, ended up with the Cowboys. It was bad enough in Cleveland, where management reportedly was “stunned” by his extracurricular activities and spoke with him before training camp opened last week. For now, it has worked. He hasn’t tweeted or Instagrammed since July 21.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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