For the first time in two decades, Cleveland Browns fans can enjoy a stress-free first round of the NFL Draft. The following is a thank you letter to quarterback Baker Mayfield for making such a day possible.
Before starting, I’d like to note that Baker Mayfield was not the only piece of the Cleveland Browns puzzle. The talent John Dorsey has amassed in Berea is unmatched since 1999, and this is their thank you letter as well.
But if you had to pick one moment, one franchise-defining snapshot as for where the Browns turned it around, Baker Mayfield lays claim to that moment.
The date was April 26, 2018. The time, around 8:15 p.m. when the pick was actually announced. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked to the podium of the 2018 NFL Draft, announcing the first overall selection: Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, a quarterback going to the Cleveland Browns.
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Now, Cleveland has been through this song and dance before; picking a quarterback just to have it not work out despite the team’s best wishes. Social media was split, beside themselves with either joy or unbridled rage, many fans certain that Mayfield was a second coming of former Browns quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
And yet, here we are, 364 days later. Mayfield has come to define Cleveland football. With a rookie season that went literally unmatched in NFL history, a 27-touchdown performance in just 13 starts, Mayfield has lifted the Browns from the depths of the NFL’s basement to possible Super Bowl contention in the coming seasons.
Throughout the whole of Mayfield’s rookie season, there were tremendous throws and amazing plays that gave the fan base an unprecedented amount of hope. Mayfield’s, for lack of a better term, “swag” both on and off the field gave Browns fans something to cheer for that wasn’t just the next upcoming draft class.
I, along with so many of my fellow Browns fans, am not old enough to remember the last time Cleveland football was relevant. We’ve seen the Browns draft bust after bust at the game’s most important position, failing at nearly every turn. We’ve seen that era.
But now, thanks to John Dorsey, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, Odell Beckham Jr., and yes, Baker Mayfield, I get to witness the renaissance of the Cleveland Browns. And that rebirth is what fans have been waiting for. So go, Browns fans, go enjoy a stress-free draft day. And thanks, Baker. Thanks a whole lot.