NFL writers voted Saquon Barkley as Offensive Rookie of the Year over Baker Mayfield at the NFL Honors, fueling a fire that will pay off for the Cleveland Browns.
During the regular season, Mayfield was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week – a fan voted honor – seven times, the most for any rookie in 2018.
Despite how well he played, Mayfield did not receive the recognition of being the best offensive rookie in 2018. During Super Bowl week, Mayfield finished in second for the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award, losing out to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. This was not a surprise considering the award is fan voted and it would be hard for the mass of the Browns fan base to outdo the mass of the Giants fan base.
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But on the eve of Super Bowl LIII, Barkley was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year at the NFL Honors event. Mayfield finished in second once again. Unlike the Pepsi award being voted on by the fans, this award was voted on by NFL writers.
Even though Mayfield had a good case for winning the award, NFL writers voting Barkley as the best offensive rookie in the 2018 draft class could pay off for the Browns in the long run. By the way Mayfield handles people overlooking him and his talent level, he will carry this moment on his shoulder for the rest of his career and do whatever he can to show he is better than Barkley. Mayfield loves to prove his doubters wrong, and he has proven that on many occasions.
The first occasion was when Texas Tech did not offer him a scholarship after performing at a high level for them in 2013. Without the scholarship, Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma. So what did Mayfield do to Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury, the head coach that did not offer Mayfield a scholarship, when they played each other? Mayfield dominated his former school, completing 69.6 percent of his passes for 1,038 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three wins.
In the 2016 version of this match-up, Mayfield had a ho-hum game, completing 27 of 36 passes for 545 yards and seven touchdowns. Not a bad way to stick it to his former coach.
Then there was the case of Mayfield trying to revenge Oklahoma’s 2016 home loss to Ohio State. Mayfield felt the Buckeyes disrespected Oklahoma and celebrated on their home turf, so he wanted to do the same when the Sooners visited Columbus in 2017.
Mayfield once again had a phenomenal performance, completing 27 of 35 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns. He then capped off the performance by sticking an Oklahoma flag in the heart of the “Block O” on the 50-yard line after the game.
The quarterback also dominated TCU after their head coach, Gary Patterson, defended Kingsbury. Mayfield also said TCU coaches promised they were going to offer him a scholarship, but they never did. Mayfield said that Patterson, “didn’t like me.”
Also during the 2017 season, Mayfield made it a personal duty to destroy Kansas after one of the Jayhawk captains refused to shake Mayfield’s hand during the coin toss. This game led to the infamous “crotch-grab” moment from Mayfield.
In general, Mayfield has always felt like an underdog during his college career because he started his college career as a walk-on. He made that known leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft and how he was able to overcome those odds to become a top selection.
Finally, when he was the Cleveland Browns quarterback, he did everything in his power to beat his former head coach, Hue Jackson. When the Browns played the Bengals in 2018, Mayfield dominated the games. He also became even more of a Cleveland legend when he stared Jackson down in the second game against Cincinnati.
So, given Mayfield’s history, it would not be shocking that he carries his loss to Barkley for a long time. During Super Bowl week, Mayfield said he wanted to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. If he felt so strongly about winning the award, then he may be just as frustrated for not winning the award.
Without receiving the recognition for his play during his rookie season, the Browns quarterback may try to one-up Barkley during the rest of their careers. The way Mayfield may try to prove his doubters wrong this time is by winning a MVP award or a Super Bowl before Barkley does.
But either way, the Browns organization and fan base would thoroughly enjoy whatever Mayfield brings first. In the case of the NFL writers that did not vote Mayfield Offensive Rookie of the Year, they may be receiving a bunch of thank you letters in the mail from Browns fans in a few years if Mayfield carries this grudge for a long time.