Johnny Manziel consults Cam Newton about handling stardom

jjones@charlotteobserver.com jperson@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 21, 2014 

— Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton have a number of similarities.

Both are dual-threat quarterbacks. Both are Heisman Trophy winners. Both have been heavily scrutinized off the field.

And if the Texans pick Manziel in May’s draft, both will have been No. 1 NFL draft picks.

Manziel said he spoke for two hours with Newton during the NFL offseason about how to handle the stardom after Manziel won the 2012 Heisman.

“Being another Heisman Trophy winner, I got a chance to reach out to him probably in the spring, summer, sometime in there,” Manziel said. “We had probably a two-hour conversation to talk about everything, about the people he has around him and what has made him so successful. I’m very eager to listen to him. He’s a fun-loving, fun-natured guy, and I’m really thankful to be able to pick up the phone and call him if I ever need anything.”

Manziel, who starred at Texas A&M, had his share of off-the-field issues, including an NCAA suspension for getting money from an autograph broker to several alcohol reports while in college.

“I believe whenever I decided to make this decision to turn professional, it was a time to put my college years in the past,” Manziel said.

Manziel, Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater are the consensus top three quarterbacks in the draft.

Meet for coffee: When Panthers coach Ron Rivera learned practice squad offensive lineman Andrew McDonald’s mom worked at an Indianapolis Starbucks, he decided to pay her a visit.

Rivera met with McDonald’s mom to reaffirm their commitment to McDonald, who was recently revealed to be ‘Player A’ in the report on the Miami Dolphins’ hazing scandal.

“I just wanted to let her know that he’s doing the things we’ve asked. He’s doing very well and we really appreciate him coming in and doing the right things,” Rivera said. “I said, hey, if he keeps giving us that effort who knows? He’s got an opportunity. But in all honesty I just wanted to reassure her that he’s doing all the things we need him to do for us.”

McDonald, who went undrafted out of Indiana, joined the Panthers’ practice squad last season after being released by Miami, and he signed a futures contract that will bring him back to the team in 2014.

The report states that McDonald was taunted in the locker room, and the offensive line coach gave McDonald a male sex doll as a gag gift.

McDonald’s agent said the player was disappointed he had “become associated with this story.”

Trending tall? The NFL is a copycat league, but Pete Carroll doesn’t think teams will follow the Seahawks’ blueprint of drafting tall, athletic corners.

“No, because they don’t exist. Big, fast guys are the fewest people around,” Carroll said. “Everybody would like to get longer, taller guys that run 4.4. But there are just not many humans like that in the world. It’s rare when you find them, and then you have to develop the guys.”

The Seahawks had one of the biggest corner tandems in league history in Richard Sherman (6-3, 195) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 221) until Browner was suspended indefinitely in December for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Carroll has been a proponent of big corners for 20 years because of his commitment to press, bump-and-run coverage.

But he pointed to this year’s draft class as proof they’re hard to find. There are only two corners taller than 6-1 among the top prospects: Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Utah’s Keith McGill, both 6-3.

“When we had Brandon and Richard playing, you can’t get any longer than that. Those are the two tallest corners that played together, I think arguably in the history of the league,” Carroll said. “OK, let’s go do that. Well, there’s no players like that.”

Panthers honored by diversity group: Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and coach Ron Rivera were honored Friday by the Fritz Pollard Alliance for the team’s contributions to diversity in the NFL.

Rivera, the third NFL head coach of Latino descent, guided the Panthers to a 12-4 regular-season record and the team’s first playoff berth in five years. He was honored by several organizations as the NFL’s coach of the year, including the Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers of America.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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