By David Dietrich
November 29, 2018
On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns won a road game for the first time since 2015. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield was spectacular, finishing with 258 passing yards on 19 completions, four of which led to touchdowns. While the 35-20 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals and former coach Hue Jackson was noteworthy, Mayfield is receiving backlash from the national media for his postgame actions and comments directed towards former Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
After the Browns’ convincing win over Cincinnati, Hue Jackson sought out his former quarterback for a hug. Mayfield gave Jackson a straight-faced handshake, denying a hug and walking away. When reporters asked Mayfield what happened during the exchange, he mentioned that he “didn’t feel like talking” to him (Cabot, 2018, para. 3). Mayfield defended this by telling reporters that “somebody that was in our locker room asking for us to play for him, goes to a different team we play twice a year” (Cabot, 2018, para. 4). The young quarterback felt betrayed by his former head coach, and perhaps rightfully so.
Since then, national media members, some with NFL experience, have been ripping into the Browns rookie, calling him ‘immature’ (Gamble, 2018, para. 9) and ‘classless’ (Gamble, 2018, para. 18). One former NFL player who chided Mayfield was ESPN First Take guest Damien Woody. Woody called Mayfield “hypocritical” (Curtis, 2018, para. 2) and told him to “grow up” (Curtis, 2018, para. 1), prompting this response from Mayfield (“Baker rips Hue,” 2018, para. 2):
The now-deleted Instagram comment sparked an even bigger response from the national media. The Undefeated’s William Rhoden (2018) wrote that Mayfield “hopefully will wise up or, at the very least, learn some respect” (para. 28). David Hookstead (2018) of The Daily Caller advises Mayfield to “chill out, stop behaving like a petty teenage girl and focus on playing football” (para. 6). Former NFL safety Ryan Clark appeared on ESPN’s Get Up and told Mayfield “Stop being petty, stop being soft” (Pastrick, 2018, para. 15).
While the Instagram comment may have been unnecessary, it was not completely surprising. Mayfield has been very active on social media in the past, often responding to posts that criticize his actions. He even keeps a list of media members that have “crossed the line,” and uses those names as motivation. His postgame comment about Hue Jackson was his personal take, as he told reporters “Everyone can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel” (Cabot, 2018, para. 4). With these words, Mayfield acknowledged that different people would have different opinions, but he felt comfortable with his. The NFL is a business, but it is also a highly competitive league. Baker Mayfield is a passionate player, and his competitive comments should not be held against him.
Unlike most NFL quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield is outspoken, fiery, and unabashed. These rare qualities can often be valuable. Whether he is on or off the field, Mayfield does not hold back. His intensity, accuracy, passion, and ability to create have helped him win the Heisman, and Browns general manager John Dorsey believed those qualities could translate to the NFL. In just 8 starts, Mayfield has helped the Browns join the playoff conversation. More importantly, he has restored hope in Cleveland, a city desperate for a winning football team. Baker Mayfield has always been motivated by criticism, and the backlash from the media will only fuel his fire. This week’s media backlash will inevitably lead to more names being added to Baker Mayfield’s personal list. With a motivated Mayfield under center, Browns fans have a list of reasons to believe in their beloved team.
Baker rips Hue Jackson (again). (2018, November 25). Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/post/nfl/72e09cd2-6c95-4dac-95d6-8123b382f9bc
Cabot, M. (2018, November 26). Baker Mayfield ‘didn’t feel like talking’ to Hue Jackson postgame after he defected to the Bengals. Cleveland.com. Retrieved from https://www.cleveland.com/browns/2018/11/baker-mayfield-didnt-feel-like-talking-to-hue-jackson-post-game-after-he-defected-to-the-bengals.html
Curtis, C. (2018, November 27). ESPN’s Damien Woody’s beef with Baker Mayfield and his ‘fanboys’ intensifies. USAToday.com. Retrieved from https://ftw.usatoday.com/2018/11/cleveland-browns-baker-mayfield-damien-woody-beef-twitter-video
Gamble, J. (2018, November 27). Baker Mayfield’s classless shots At Hue Jackson. TheShadowLeague.com. Retrieved from https://theshadowleague.com/baker-mayfields-classless-shots-at-hue-jackson/
Hookstead, D. (2018, November 27). Baker Mayfield’s actions are getting out of control. His latest stunt is downright embarrassing. TheDailyCaller.com. Retrieved from https://dailycaller.com/2018/11/27/baker-mayfield-hue-jackson-first-take-comment-instagram/
Pastrick, C. (2018, November 27). Ex-Steeler Ryan Clark goes off on Browns QB Baker Mayfield for ‘being soft.’ TribLive.com. Retrieved from https://triblive.com/sports/nfl/14342239-74/ex-steeler-ryan-clark-goes-off-on-baker-mayfield-for-being-soft
Rhoden, W. (2018, November 27). Who does Baker Mayfield think he is? TheUndefeated.com. Retrieved from https://theundefeated.com/features/who-does-baker-mayfield-think-he-is/