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Browns deny report that Johnny Manziel was drunk at practice

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The Browns are denying reports that they placed Manziel in the concussion protocol during Week 17 to hide the fact that he came to practice drunk.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cleveland Browns placed quarterback Johnny Manziel under the league's concussion protocol in Week 17 of the 2016 season, there were reports that Manziel had actually arrived at practice drunk. The Browns denied those reports on Tuesday.

Calling Manziel's current trajectory a "downward spiral," NFL Network's Mike Silver reported that a Browns player told him that Manziel showed up to the team's practice facility under the influence of alcohol. This occurred shortly after Manziel had regained the starting quarterback role in Cleveland. Silver is reporting that Manziel did not have a concussion, although the Browns did place him in the protocol and ruled him out for Cleveland's Week 17 game.

"The Browns lied and said he was in the concussion protocol," Silver said. "Let me repeat that -- the Browns lied to try to protect, and I would argue, enable this irresponsible and very troubled young man."

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com said that, at the time Manziel was placed under the concussion protocol, she heard that he had arrived at the practice facility drunk. When she asked the team about it, the Browns confirmed to Cabot that Manziel had been diagnosed with a concussion by an independent neurologist.

The Browns released a statement Tuesday establishing a timeline for Manziel's concussion.

Cabot also followed up with the league in early January to ask if it would investigate Manziel's concussion issue, and the NFL indicated it had no plans to do so.

After the Browns released their statement, Silver said that while he regrets using the word "lied," about the way Cleveland handled the Manziel situation, he stands by the veracity of his report.

A Browns source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Manziel wasn't drunk, but rather was hungover at the team facility. The source said that Manziel complained of sensitivity to light, headache and vomiting and that the team had no choice but to place him in the protocol.

Manziel had been benched earlier in the season by the Browns after a video of him partying surfaced on the Internet during Cleveland's bye week. He earned the starting job back prior to Week 14, and at the time, Manziel expressed optimism that his future in Cleveland was intact. But this incident coupled with Manziel's decision to skip the Week 17 game in favor of a trip to Las Vegas didn't do much to help his cause.

Since the season ended, Manziel has been the subject of more off-the-field drama, with a domestic violence allegation being lodged against him by his former girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. The Browns are expected to release Manziel after the start of the new league year.