All week, I’ve been trying to figure out why the national sports world has become obsessed with Baker Mayfield.
To be clear, this obsession has nothing to do with the stats being produced by the Cleveland Browns’ rookie quarterback. That I’d understand. All he’s done over the past seven games is throw 16 touchdowns, just five interceptions and essentially insert himself as a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.
No, instead, I’m wondering why the past week has been nothing but sports media pundits flipping their collective lid about Mayfield’s “antics.” In this case, it’s his stare-down with former Browns coach and current Cincinnati Bengals assistant Hue Jackson. This occurred five days ago, but nobody is shutting up about it.
Frankly, I just couldn’t really understand why this was such a big deal. Why this is being perceived as “offensive,” or proof Mayfield needs to grow up.
But I think I’ve figured it out. I think I know why everyone is up on their soapbox when it comes to Mayfield’s on-field behavior, why the past week has been nothing but nonstop moaning from national media members.
They’re being proven wrong. And they can’t handle it.
Simply put, Mayfield is bringing an end to so many things, especially the decades-long misery Browns fans have suffered. He’s debunking the popular theories which surrounded him heading into the NFL Draft. That he was too short, that his arrogance was problematic, that his game couldn’t translate in the pros.
Not only are these pundits being made to look foolish on a weekly basis, they’re being proven wrong by the new franchise quarterback of a team which hasn’t been able to find such a thing in years. To ice the cake, they’re being proven wrong with a little added swagger.
Apparently, this is all too much for them to deal with. Apparently, having your nose rubbed in your own bad takes by the quarterback of the Browns is too much to stomach. Knowing they can no longer stick to their “he’ll never make it in the NFL” shtick, all that’s left to do is go over the top when whining about his attitude.
Why else would you have people spend so much time wagging their finger at a player who can back up everything he’s doing? Why else would people suddenly be clutching their pearls and calling him entitled? Why else would we have former players endorsing cheap shots against him?
Most importantly, why else would people choose to side not with the man responsible for turning this moribund franchise around, but instead with Jackson, the man who’d held it back for the past three years before being mercifully fired?
The reality is this has nothing to do with Mayfield or his perceived “issues.” This isn’t a case of a player who needs to check his attitude, who needs to be taught a lesson in playing with dignity.
No, this is instead a giant group of people who can’t handle the idea of the Browns getting it right.
They can’t come to terms with Cleveland finally finding itself a franchise quarterback after countless swings and misses. They can’t deal with no longer being able to make jokes about failed Browns QBs. The lowest-hanging fruit is no longer there for the taking.
They already weren’t going to be able to stomach the idea of Mayfield proving them wrong with every impressive showing on the field. Now they have to deal with the fact he’s doing so in a Browns uniform.
Clearly this is too much to handle. These pundits had their claims, and they were proven false. Rather than admitting they were wrong, though, they’re instead grasping at straws in a weak attempt to make themselves look correct.
Sure, they’re ignoring the fact those whose opinions matter most to Mayfield – his teammates – are siding with him. Sure, they expect him to prioritize the views of network talking heads over the men he shares a locker room with.
Still, this is what happens when you get proven wrong by a guy who’s doing so while representing a team which is no longer an easy punchline. You whine about how he’s doing it. You act as though Mayfield playing with an edge is somehow spitting in the face of those who came before him.
And you keep doing so knowing he doesn’t give a damn what you think.