Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been a divisive player probably since he planted the flag in Ohio State’s stadium following Oklahoma's win over the highly-ranked team back in 2017.
Nothing has changed since then, and now that he is hitting a rough patch with Cleveland as they sit at 2-5, fans are seeing the downside to having such a player.
On Wednesday, during regular media availability, Mayfield had a meltdown when Tony Grossi, who is currently working for The Land On Demand, as well as a radio show on ESPN Cleveland and Fox Sports Ohio, asked him about the urgency of Cleveland’s drive to end the half, which resulted in this exchange.
This Baker Mayfield interview brought to you by the fine folks at Electronic Merchant Systems pic.twitter.com/H6KdrtLlBz— Wes Blankenship (@Wes_nship) October 30, 2019
From a fan’s perspective, there will be many who will take Mayfield’s side. However, you have to understand that sometimes these reporters are trying to ask questions specifically to get the insight that only being in the game would bring. For comparison, you can look at how the Texans’ young quarterback Deshaun Watson answered a similar question following a loss.
Deshaun Watson brings you into the film room with this answer.— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) September 30, 2019
That is a dream answer for any reporter, fan and many other NFL viewers, as it is valuable knowledge passed along without the air of contention. All Mayfield had to do was to explain the goal was not to give the ball back to the Patriots.
When Grossi asks if he was happy with the drive, all he had to do is explain that they’d rather run out the clock than risk turning the ball over or leaving time for the New England to extend their lead. He could have also added that they were comfortable with this because they were going to get the ball after halftime anyway.
However, it’s additionally important to note that Grossi and Mayfield have a history prior to this. Grossi had written things suggesting that Mayfield shouldn’t be the first overall pick because of things like being a “prima donna.”
Grossi had also made it clear that he viewed Sam Darnold as the correct pick for the Browns that season. The longtime reporter has claimed Mayfield has yet to move on from those comments made a couple of years ago.
“I didn’t want to be in a confrontation with the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, but he had been disrespectful so many times in the last couple weeks in response to simple questions by me,” Grossi said according to Pro Football Talk. “...I think it goes back to the pre-draft conversations we had, things I said, things I wrote. OK, fine, but you have to move along. I tried to talk to him twice, alone, but he just wants no part of that. If he’s not going to do that I have to do my job as best as I can.”
Of course, Mayfield went online to defend himself following the exchange.
say that I’ve gotten complacent. My sense of urgency is at an all time high. And if I offend anybody along the way... that’s too bad— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) October 30, 2019
Mayfield is a player who has the mindset that you are either with him or against him. It is kind of attitude that makes him a fan favorite, but one that other teams can’t stand.
This isn’t the first time that this kind of view has gotten him in trouble. During training camp he called out Duke Johnson Jr. following the news that he asked for a trade.
That is the same sort of mindset that got him applause when he ripped his former head coach Hue Jackson on multiple occasions, though. Mayfield is right that he has always been who he is, but that doesn’t mean it is always a good thing.
Winning makes everything look better, and when you’re winning you can say things like you “woke up feeling dangerous” and then have Twitter explode with reaction. When you’re losing, however, everything becomes tougher.
Questions about losses are so much harder to answer because you have to relive the failure. It would be foolish of me to say that it is easy to take the higher road in these instances, but you have to understand, as a player, that these people have a job to do, whether you win or lose.
Mayfield should view this as a learning moment, but odds are he will see this as the media turning against him. You can’t invite the spotlight and then get upset when it gets too hot.