Jerry Jones was 'that close' to drafting Johnny Manziel

Jerry Jones called passing on Johnny Manziel 'a hard decision.' (USATSI)
Jerry Jones called passing on Johnny Manziel 'a hard decision.' (USATSI)
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Here's Jerry Jones back in May, a day after the Cowboys passed on Johnny Manziel and drafted offensive lineman Zack Martin: "Frankly ... [picking Manziel] wasn't even a thought. This was such an obvious football … decision."

And here's Jerry Jones on Sunday, days into training camp talking to NFL Network about ... the 2014 draft, the Cowboys, and Manziel.

“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close,” Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill. “I looked over to my son, Stephen, our chief executive officer, and I said ‘I took the right pick.’ ... He was the top player by three players on our board at the time that we were sitting there looking at him.”

Just how close "that close" really is is another matter. All indications are that the Cowboys never seriously considered Manziel with the 16th overall pick, and indeed made the right decision when they selected Martin.

Then again, Jones isn't just the owner, he's the general manager, a role he has no plans to relinquish ... well, ever. And because of his history of poor and sometimes impulsive decision making, no one would have been surprised if, in a moment of weakness, Jones decided to take Manziel.

"I think that had to have been a difficult decision for Jerry," former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman said earlier this month of the decision to pass on Johnny Football.

“The question was, ‘Could we make it work with Tony Romo during the period of time that we are going to have Tony?’" Jones said Sunday. "And by the way, my expectations are that Tony will be our quarterback several years to come as we move along.

“But Manziel is special. I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League, and it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably have for the rest of my career think about.”

Meanwhile, the Browns, who traded into the first round to take Manziel, already have their hands full with the rookie quarterback.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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