Cleveland Browns rookie Quarterback Baker Mayfield is absolutely deserving of winning Rookie of the Year, but it might be better for the team and his career if he doesn’t win the award.
The NFL will be holding their Honors ceremony this Saturday night, and the league will be handing out several of their coveted awards. One of which is the official Rookie of the Year award. While there have been several rookies who have turned in phenomenal seasons, by all accounts it has become a two-horse race.
There is no way anyone could deny that Barkley had a rookie campaign for the ages. The dynamic rookie rushed for over 1,300 yards and led the league in yards from scrimmage with just over 2,000. He appears to be a generational talent that should be a legitimate weapon for years to come.
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But let’s not get crazy. What Baker Mayfield did this year can’t even be confined to his play on the field, which was stellar. Aside from breaking the rookie record for touchdown passes in only 13 starts, aside from leading a team to seven wins this year when they only had one win in two previous seasons, aside from being the most impactful rookie quarterback in recent memory (or perhaps ever for that matter), he turned around an entire franchise that had been in a perpetual quagmire since before he was born.
He provided hope to a fanbase who had forgotten the meaning of the word. He made the once prominent turned doomed Cleveland Browns relevant again. There should be an entirely more prestigious award for what Mayfield accomplished as a rookie.
But…what if, and hear me out, Mayfield doesn’t win Rookie of the Year? Would it be unjust, would it be a travesty? Yes, absolutely. But one could make the argument that Mayfield not winning the award could be better for him in the long-run.
When was the last time an athlete took a perceived slight, real or imagined, and used it as fuel to the degree that Mayfield has? Muhammed Ali? Michael Jordan? Pete Rose? We are talking about all-time great competitors. Baker’s ability to manifest motivation is one of the factors that drive him to strive for greatness. Forget carrying a chip on his shoulder, he is looking for boulders.
Mayfield already stated that he made a list of the people that doubted or disparaged him before the draft. Just ask Tony Grossi about Baker’s memory. Ask Hue Jackson if Baker Mayfield carries a grudge. Now magnify that times a thousand and you might begin to get an idea of the fire that getting snubbed for Rookie of the Year could generate.
Baker Mayfield better win Rookie of the Year, for the league’s sake. He might burn it to the ground if he doesn’t. Heaven help the other 31 teams in the NFL…and anyone else not wearing Brown and Orange for that matter.