BEREA, Ohio -- As they crossed the finish line after racing each other for four months, veteran Brian Hoyer remained convinced he was born to become the starting quarterback for his hometown Browns while rookie Johnny Manziel had to admit he wasn't ready for the job.
Hoyer worked relentlessly to rebound from a devastating knee injury, learn the scheme employed by new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and ensure he would be prepared to fight for his childhood dream. He knew his goal would be seriously threatened when the Browns traded up four spots in May's NFL Draft to select Manziel 22nd overall.
But after the derby for the starting job ran its course, Hoyer prevailed primarily because he wanted it more.
Browns coach Mike Pettine and his assistants chose Hoyer as the team's starting quarterback heading into the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at Pittsburgh during a meeting Tuesday night. Pettine told Hoyer and Manziel separately Wednesday morning, and the team emailed an announcement to the media.
"Obviously, it's very special to me," Hoyer, a North Olmsted native who went 2-0 as a starter for the Browns last season before he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Oct. 3, said Wednesday afternoon after practice. "Did I believe this could happen after I got hurt? There was no doubt in my mind, but obviously there were days where rehab sucked and I hated what I was doing.
"But I knew the feeling I had running out into that stadium or running off the field after we beat Cincinnati. It's all worth it. It's amazing how much you appreciate the game when it's taken away from you. This is why I put in all those hours, rehab, now being with Kyle, learning a new system in the offseason, throwing extra routes with 1/8the receivers3/8 -- that's what you do it for. It's an exciting time."
Meanwhile, Johnny Football is set to begin his NFL career as Johnny Backup.
"It's disappointing. Obviously, I didn't want this to be the outcome," Manziel said. "But at the same time, I didn't necessarily feel I was ready. I felt like there were steps I needed to take and I need to take to move forward and get better. Down the road as the weeks continue go on, I think I'll get better. Does it light a fire? I don't really know if it does or not."
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