NFL

Joe Thomas: Fans will love Manziel if he wins, flips off commissioner

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 18: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns gives the thumbs up to the bench during the third quarter of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 18, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 18: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns gives the thumbs up to the bench during the third quarter of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 18, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas thinks Johnny Manziel could be the most popular player in the NFL. All he has to do is win, and maybe flip off commissioner Roger Goodell.

Manziel, who caught grief last year in a preseason game against Washington for extending his middle finger toward the Redskins sideline, hasn't received as much attention as he did during his rookie season when he was competing with Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback job. Now penciled in as Josh McCown's backup, Manziel has been able to get back to basics and focus on becoming an NFL quarterback.

If and when Manziel gets on the field for the Browns, Thomas believes Johnny Football can rise again with the trademark bravado he showed in college at Texas A&M.

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"It's all going to come down to how he does on the field," Thomas said per ESPN.com. "If he goes and wins games and flips off the commissioner, he might be the most popular guy in the NFL.

"That's why they loved [Manziel] in college, because that's how he played. If you don't win and you play crappy and you do that stuff, people hate you because of it."

After a stint in rehab, Manziel has made excellent progress by all accounts in Cleveland, but t's going to take an injury or some truly lackluster play from McCown for Manziel to get back to his Johnny Football roots this season.

h/t: ESPN.com