TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – Johnny Manziel has been slapped on the finger.
The NFL fined the Browns rookie quarterback $12,000 on Friday for flipping his middle finger at Washington’s sideline, a person familiar with the penalty told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the ruling has not been made public.
Manziel said he was reacting to incessant taunting by the Redskins during Monday night’s nationally televised game when he made the gesture while running back to Cleveland’s huddle.
“I had words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week,” Manziel said. “I should have been smarter. It was a Monday Night Football game and the cameras were probably solidly on me, and I need to be smarter about that.”
Manziel has never shied away from other gestures on the field, notably the finger-rubbing “money” sign he made famous while playing at Texas A&M, where in 2012 he became the first freshman to win college football’s Heisman Trophy.
Manziel expects the trash talk to keep heading his way.
“Since my name has grown bigger and people have known who I am, it just continues to go on as the games continue to go on,” he said following Cleveland’s 24-23 loss to the Redskins. “I don’t know if there is a single level of severity each game, but I know it’s there and it’s present every game. I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play.
“I feel like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up.”
His finger flipping didn’t help his chances of winning Cleveland’s starting job, which went to veteran Brian Hoyer.
Browns coach Mike Pettine felt Manziel should have known better than to react to Washington’s insults. He wants his high-profile rookie – and Cleveland’s other players – to make mature decisions on and off the field. Pettine said the 21-year-old’s behavior factored into the team’s decision in naming a starter.
“We talk about ‘Play like a Brown.’ We want our guys to act like a Brown,” Pettine said. “We want to be a first-class organization. We have hundreds, thousands of kids come to our training camp practices, and look up to our players. That type of behavior is unacceptable. It’s something that’s part of football that you have to maintain your poise and your composure, especially at that position, and he should know better than anyone that all eyes are on him.”