On the first day of training camp in Berea, Ohio, Cleveland Browns fans came out by the thousands, many of them to get their first live look at the popular and polarizing quarterback who electrified college football and who may one day lead Cleveland back to pro football glory.
They all came to see Johnny Manziel.
There were No. 2 jerseys everywhere, ringing the practice fields in various shapes, sizes and colours:
Strutting around the field with his usual swagger, Manziel went through his first training camp practice on Saturday, a workout that finally allowed the focus to be on his playing ability after months of his social life making headlines. After acknowledging he "made some rookie mistakes" with his off-the-field exploits, Manziel zipped passes and showed some of the elusiveness that earned him his "Johnny Football" nickname while at Texas A&M:
Hours before the Browns opened the gates of their training complex, fans waited patiently in lines for a chance to get a prime spot to see Manziel. Bracing for huge crowds at camp, the Browns required fans to register online for the first time to reserve a ticket for the practices.
At 9:22 a.m., Manziel emerged through the door of Cleveland's locker room and made his way onto the field. As Manziel came into view, fans wearing Johnny Football T-shirts and No. 2 jerseys, some of them recycled ones they wore when Tim Couch was Cleveland's starting quarterback, cheered as House of Pain's Jump Around blared through loudspeakers.
Manziel later said he appreciated the support.
"Personally, I've had an incredible fan base that's followed me and really come out of the woodwork here in Cleveland for me," he said. "It's truly incredible.
"I'm truly thankful to have those guys. But more than anything, it's not just my number, my name on the back.
"It's Cleveland. It's the Browns.
"It's awesome to have the fan base that we have for this team, not just me. It's a great turnout today and I'm sure that won't stop anytime soon."
I've seen more Browns coverage on NFL live the past 10 min then I have the past 5 years combined #manzielmania— Timothy Hoynes Jr. (@TimothyMHoynes) July 26, 2014