Baker Mayfield changing franchise quarterback perception

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 21: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 21: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns are becoming a fun team to watch thanks in large part to Baker Mayfield who is challenging the perception of what a franchise quarterback is

Just because the offseason is nearing an end doesn’t mean we can’t get one more story about the Cleveland Browns trending. And unlike when a certain talking head tries to push buttons to fuel ratings, this time it’s all good coverage.

It was announced on Wednesday that the July edition of ESPN the Magazine was going to feature quarterback Baker Mayfield on the cover. As for the cover story, senior writer Mina Kimes looked at the young quarterback who went from underdog to top dog due to his hard work and incredible self-confidence.

As for the article itself, the general theme is that Mayfield isn’t scared of the hype being created by his succesful rookie season. With all eyes on him, Mayfield is prepared for success because he has had to work hard to get anything in life.

A former walk-on at two different colleges, the undersized gun-slinger went from a hardly-recruited kid to a Heisman Trophy winner. Now, he enters his sophomore season as the face of a resurgent franchise — a franchise that Kimes says is favored to win their division.

It’s not all about football though as there’s even a look into his family — not just his mother who he’s extremely close to, but also his new wife Emily Wilkinson, who he pursued in a rather comical way. Baker also showed his softer side when he approached a young fan at a football camp who was wearing one of the quarterback’s headbands as well as a pair of socks with the face of none other than No. 6 on them.

However, there was one part of this story that really captured my attention which was the way Mayfield is breaking down the stereotype of how a quarterback is supposed to act.

In the following excerpt from her in-depth look at Mayfield, Kimes touched on his feelings about that idea of a “franchise quarterback,” a definition he didn’t seem too fond of.

"“You get this term” — Mayfield had paused, making air quotations with his fingers — “‘franchise QB.’ That’s like being a politician.” He spat out the phrase in a way that suggested he didn’t particularly care for it, even though it’s generally used to describe the league’s most valuable players, the traditional role models that teams are built around.“You don’t have to do that.”"

We can all surely agree that Mayfield is anything but political in how he speaks. He’s comfortable in his skin and he’s fine if others don’t truly understand that. He’s not seeking approval nor does he want it. What he does want, is to be great. And he knows in order to achieve greatness, he has to be real both on the field and off it.

In all honesty, it’s refreshing. Too many times a “franchise quarterback” strolls to the podium and gives rehearsed answers. They try not to offend and they want to give credit to their opponent regardless of any past ill will. Not Baker.

He’s willing to go to the media and call Hue Jackson a “fake” for taking a job in Cincinnati. He’s willing to say that anyone not with him is against him. He’s willing to take shots at Giants fans for not appreciating Odell Beckham, Jr. and will go toe-to-toe with Colin Cowherd to defend OBJ, himself, and the city he represents.

When Mayfield entered the NFL people thought he was different due to his stature, but that wasn’t the only thing about him that didn’t fit into the cookie-cutter definition of a franchise quarterback. He was also raw, unfiltered, extremely passionate, and flat out dangerous.

Unorthodox as it all may seem, he’s exactly what the Browns needed. And that’s what he said last year before the draft when he claimed he had the attitude this franchise needed to go from the NFL’s proverbial punching bag to a franchise ready to throw some punches of his own.

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In short, Baker isn’t afraid of the hype. And he isn’t afraid of the criticism — instead, he embraces it all and is ready to keep proving he can accomplish anything.