Baker Mayfield: Trade to Cleveland means Odell Beckham Jr. can 'play in front of fans who care'

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

ESPN writer Mina Kimes has written a profile of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield that touches on a variety of topics and provides a good look at Mayfield as he enters his second NFL season with Cleveland, one of the most talked about teams of the offseason.

One of the things Mayfield discussed is his new teammate, Odell Beckham Jr., and the spread of misinformation about the receiver, who was traded to the Browns earlier this year.

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‘He’s here to work’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, left, came to the defense of teammate Odell Beckham Jr. in a recent interview. (AP)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, left, came to the defense of teammate Odell Beckham Jr. in a recent interview. (AP)

Mayfield told Kimes that he no longer keeps track of all the slights reporters and others write or say about him like he once did, saying at some point he has to find his own motivation.

Sensing that Kimes was skeptical, Mayfield laughed and brought up his favorite media sparring partner.

“When I want to stir the pot, I’ll click to see what [Colin] Cowherd’s said lately,” mentioning the Fox Sports radio host.

Earlier this year, Cowherd said sources told him that Beckham wasn’t happy about the trade to Cleveland, and then listed some of Beckham’s off-field incidents. Mayfield came to Beckham’s defense both times, at one point calling Cowherd a “clown.”

Mayfield said it bothers him when people spread misinformation about Beckham, taking a swipe at Giants fans in the process.

“He's here to work, and he wants to be surrounded by people who love him and support him and allow him to be himself,” Mayfield said. “He's here to play in front of fans who actually care, who will actually show up to every game and pack the stadium and love him for who he is.”

(Mayfield called out Browns fans in December when the team’s penultimate home game, a win over the Carolina Panthers, was sparsely attended.)

Honestly, loyalty and being on his team come across as big deals to Mayfield.

“He’s got his guys and he’s got their back, and if you’re not with them ... you’re against him,” Browns backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert said of Mayfield. “There’s no in-between.”

Gilbert and Mayfield both played at Lake Travis High in Austin, though their time there didn’t overlap.

Baker Mayfield on Odell Beckham Jr.
Baker Mayfield on Odell Beckham Jr.

From shy teacher’s pet to rising star

While Mayfield now is criticized for sometimes being too brash — planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield at Ohio State after an upset win by the Sooners; his brush-off of former Browns coach Hue Jackson at midfield after Jackson signed to coach with the rival Bengals; his social-media spats with Cowherd and others — he and his family say he was a by-the-book, shy kid growing up.

He was a teacher’s pet because he wanted to please others, and he was afraid of making mistakes and hated getting in trouble.

“I hated speaking in front of people,” Mayfield said.

But during the college recruiting process, he realized he’d have to start speaking his mind.

He would eventually walk on at Texas Tech, win the starting job, and then transfer to Oklahoma.

Kimes’ full story is worth a read.

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