Baker Mayfield is the Brett Favre of the modern NFL
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has drawn comparisons to legendary quarterback Brett Favre since before he entered the NFL. There are countless similarities, but not all of those are positive, and that’s ok.
Comparison is the assassin of happiness. Anytime that you have something that you are constantly comparing to something else, then you will never be truly happy with what you have. The same goes for football players.
The act of comparing past and present football players is inevitable, especially when the players involved don’t just welcome the comparison, they themselves embrace it. This is usually a practice reserved for the fans and the media. But, Brett Favre himself has acknowledged, that he sees himself in Baker Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield has stated numerous times that Brett Favre was his favorite player to watch when he was growing up. It’s only natural to try to emulate what you idolize, especially when you have some of the same gifts and attributes.
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Even before Mayfield took a snap at the NFL level, he embraced the Favre comparisons. Leading up to the 2018 draft, Mayfield and his family re-enacted an iconic pre-draft photograph of Favre and his family. That invocation was the epitome of paying tribute to your hero. It was also a heroic dose of foreshadowing.
The parallels of the southern quarterbacks are endless. First, you have the on the field similarities: They are both winners first and foremost, both of have cannons attached to their shoulders, both have a gunslinger’s mentality, both possess an unshakeable belief in their own abilities, and both have a natural leadership quality that teammates can’t help but follow.
They even share many non-quarterback attributes, like their willingness to talk smack to opponents, they don’t always give the media cookie-cutter responses and instead choose to speak their minds, and they both wear their emotions on their sleeves.
It should also be noted that their comparison doesn’t just end with the positive ones. Mayfield shares Favre’s affinity for holding on to the ball in the hopes of making the big play instead of just taking what the defense is giving him. Also, in classic Favre fashion, the checkdown seems completely invisible to Mayfield at times. The gunslinger mentality they share is both a blessing and a curse. The belief that you can make every throw under any circumstance is the definition of unshakeable confidence. That confidence can lead to as much trouble as it does success.
The most interesting comparison is the situation that they found themselves in when they arrived in the NFL. Favre, although not drafted by Green Bay, got his first chance to play as a Packer. He came in during Week 3 of a game they were trailing and led his team to victory. The Green Bay Packers were a historically significant franchise who had fallen on very dark times since their days of glory. The young gunslinger provided a spark that gave the franchise and their fans the most optimism they had experienced in over 20 years.
Does that sound familiar? It should, if you were to replace their names and respective teams, that is also the story of Baker Mayfield.
Both players entered their sophomore campaign as the player to watch in the NFL. Hype, as it turns out, has had the same effect for decades. Favre and the Packers stumbled out of the gate, going 1-3 in their first four games. It wasn’t a death sentence for the Packers, as they were able to right the ship and manage to get to a 9-7 record.
The Packers slid into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed and won their wildcard game. They lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champions in the next round. Favre’s numbers on the season were not of the MVP caliber he would attain just two years later. He finished the year with 19 touchdowns, 24 interceptions, 3,303 yards, and a 60 percent completion percentage.
Just three games into Mayfield’s sophomore campaign, the Browns are 1-2, and Mayfield is on pace to finish the year with 16 touchdowns, 26 interceptions, 4,290 yards, and a 57 percent completion percentage. Even with those subpar numbers, if the Browns were able to sneak into the playoffs this season would be considered a success by Browns fans.
That being said, nobody, this writer included, expects Baker to have those uneven kinds of numbers. It is far more likely that the offense finds their rhythm and Mayfield finishes with over 30 touchdowns and under 20 interceptions. But it should be acknowledged that history is the best predictor of the future.
The Baker Mayfield and Brett Favre comparisons aren’t going to go away, both the good and bad varieties. Embrace it Browns fans. It guarantees two things: There’s going to be a lot of winning, and it will never be boring.