According to multiple reports, the league fined the Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback $12,000 on Friday for flipping his middle finger toward the Washington Redskins sideline during a nationally televised exhibition game on Monday night.
Manziel said he was responding to nonstop taunting by Redskins players and others.
“I had words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week,” Manziel said, via the Associated Press. “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.”
The flamboyant Manziel, who at Texas A&M famously celebrated by rubbing his thumb and fingers together in a “money” gesture, said he expects the taunting to continue.
“Since my name has grown bigger and people have known who I am, it just continues to go as the games continue to go on,” he said. “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.”
During the game, Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo mocked Manziel by making the money gesture after the quarterback suffered one of his three sacks.
“It was hilarious,” Orakpo said. “We were messing with him a little bit, just saying this ain't college and stuff like that. We were having a little fun.
“Manziel flipped us off. It was something funny. We were all laughing on the sidelines.”
Earlier this week, the Browns named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback, citing his maturity and experience. First-year Coach Mike Pettine said Manziel’s behavior was taken into consideration.
“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.”