Baker Mayfield: Do We Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?
Baker Mayfield and controversy seem to go hand in hand. From back in his college days at Oklahoma to now with the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield seems to find himself in the news for reasons other than football. The most recent controversy has been occurring throughout this week and started last Sunday after the Browns’ 35-20 victory over division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Instead of Mayfield’s performance (258 passing yards and 4 td’s) being talked about this week, the discussion has constantly revolved around his snubbing of Bengals assistant coach, and recent Brown’s head coach, Hue Jackson of a post-game hug. The exchange led to an awkward handshake that made it clear Mayfield didn’t want to have any sort of association with Jackson. This event later led to an interview asking Baker about what happened, in which he called Jackson “fake” and held a grudge against him for going to a division rival’s coaching staff.
Like so many other should-be non-stories, this has been major headlines all week on ESPN. ESPN’s Damien Woody has criticized Mayfield, in which Mayfield fired back on social media defending his comments and making it known that he is someone that will state his mind no matter what. He said there was a lot that went on behind closed doors that led to him calling Jackson fake, though he didn’t want to elaborate, and just said he has a right to state his opinion just like everyone else and doesn’t care what anybody thinks.
My first reaction to this whole thing is that it is a petty issue that I can’t believe is making major headlines this week. Honestly, who cares? But everyone is talking about it, so I’m going to write about it and answer the question of, “Should we love Baker, or hate him?” Speaking for myself, I didn’t like him when he was in college. I thought he was really immature and just an attention-seeker. I viewed him as another Johnny Manziel, especially once the Browns drafted him. But now…now things have changed for me and I think we should love em. Before I go on, I still believe that some of the things he does are immature, and he should act more professional. But Baker Mayfield is good for the NFL right now. He is good for sports right now. We are living in an age where too many players, in all sports, are soft. They are too friendly and too nice to opposing players around the league. A perfect example in the NFL is players exchanging jerseys with players on other teams after games. This seems like a nice gesture, but the NFL isn’t supposed to be nice. Players on opposing teams should hate each other, at least while they are on the same field. When I watch videos and interviews from older decades, it was like that. Nowadays, players are so friendly it takes away from game, and no sport is as bad at this as the NBA where all players grew up playing AAU together and are friends.
So back to Baker. In a time where sports and society are so easily offended and soft, it’s refreshing to see someone who truly doesn’t care what anybody thinks. I mean, Baker Mayfield is right in that we all have the right to speak our minds. Just because he’s a quarterback doesn’t mean he shouldn’t. And what he’s doing is creating storylines that will greatly benefit the NFL. He’s creating a rift between the Bengals and the Browns. THE BENGALS AND THE BROWNS! Two teams that nobody cares about, but a game that so many more people will watch now when they play again in December. Mayfield is becoming a hero that the city of Cleveland desperately needs. He is embracing a city that is known around the world as one of the worst sports towns, and is making them and the Browns interesting again. If he continues to win more games, while being a polarizing figure, he will gain so many fans and so many haters. The NFL needs guys like Baker. Sports needs guys like Baker. So you can love em, or you can hate em. Pretty soon everybody will have an opinion. For now, I love em.