While the newest Browns quarterback isn't walking into Cleveland's quarterbacking quandary with any guarantees, he recognizes his obligation to help Manziel the way he would any teammate.
''It is easy,'' McCown said Monday of taking on a mentoring role as well as competing for the starting position. ''You've got to lead by example first and foremost.''
McCown said opportunities to teach teammates at the same position generally come naturally while preparing to play.
''You can use some of that time to share some of your experiences,'' he said. ''And hopefully guys can benefit from it.''
Manziel, currently in a rehab facility, was a flop in his rookie season after Cleveland chose him in the first round of the draft. McCown, 35 and heading into his 13th NFL season, signed a huge deal as a free agent last year with Tampa Bay following a strong fill-in performance for injured Jay Cutler in Chicago. But McCown went 1-10 for the Bucs, who released him last month.
The only time he crossed paths with Manziel was briefly when Manziel visited Tampa Bay before the 2014 draft.
''For me, it's just come in and just like anybody on the team,'' McCown said, ''but you're right, there's a close connection because we play the same position and we'll be in the meeting rooms together. To me it's just to serve my team and help my team and any teammate as best I can, Johnny included.
''I'm looking forward to getting to know him.''
McCown will likely compete for the starting job, but if he doesn't win it, he can serve as a mentor for Manziel and Connor Shaw. McCown was asked if he expects another quarterback to join the group; Cleveland has had 22 starting quarterbacks since 1999.
''No matter who joins us in that room or what that room looks like, the goal and my part at least is to help us come together and play good football,'' he said. ''As the veteran in there right now, it starts with me. I'm excited about that and I embrace that, and I look forward to helping that group play good football and going out and doing that myself, too.''
The Browns lost their final five games in 2014 to finish 7-9, the only AFC North team not to make the playoffs. They also are the only team in that division without an established starting quarterback.
McCown has been a starter only periodically in his career, and he comes off an awful season in which he was benched and the Buccaneers earned the top overall draft pick by going 2-14. He accepts some of the blame for that record, and sees it as an educational year.
''I don't shy away from it,'' McCown said. ''In that situation, I wasn't good enough to pull us out of that. It was an unfortunate thing to happen, losing an offensive coordinator (Jeff Tedford) the week before the season, and everybody busted their butt to try to pull together and get ourselves out of that. We just weren't good enough.
''If anything, it just lights a fire to get that bad taste out of my mouth because that was not the way certainly I would have hoped to have planned for that season to go. I want to see it changed. ... I think, too, I'm better prepared if that does happen because I sure did learn a lot.''
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