Baker Mayfield is an excitable boy. A mere 23 years old, Mayfield retains the confidence of a teenager while being a good deal smarter than he is wise, and not afraid to show it.
In other words, he is acting his age.
Most recently, this has manifested as what looks from here like a pointless grudge against Hue Jackson, who until recently was the head coach of Mayfield’s Cleveland Browns, and is now working for the rival Cincinnati Bengals.
For Mayfield, this is a problem.
"“Left Cleveland, goes down to Cincinnati, I don’t know,” he said of Jackson. “It’s just somebody that was in our locker room, asking for us to play for him and then goes to a different team we play twice a year. Everybody can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel.”"
It’s hard to tell exactly what Mayfield’s problem with Jackson is, because Mayfield keeps discussing the matter in a style best described as “reality TV confessional.”
He has called Jackson “fake,” but hasn’t explained what he means by that. Going by context, Mayfield seems to be basing this accusation on the fact that Jackson went from the Browns to the Bengals — a betrayal. When ESPN’s Damien Woody pointed out that Mayfield once transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma and said the quarterback needed to “grow up,” Mayfield started in on the “fake” thing.
"“I didn’t lose 30+ games be fake and then do that,” he continued in the comment. “…I wasn’t gonna have a scholarship. Good try though buddy.”"
If Mayfield is going to have an emotional problem every time a coworker gets fired and takes a job with a rival team, it’s going to be a long and frustrating career.
But he won’t.
He’s speaking now from the perspective of a 23-year-old who hasn’t had to each much (poo) in life. It’s one thing to lose your spot on a football team when you’re in college. It’s quite another to lose your real friggin’ job as a grown man. Not that Mayfield would know anything about that. Give him another 10 years, and I’m guessing he’ll have dropped the “fake” stuff and realized that everybody is pretty much just doing the best they can with what they’ve got. And if Hue Jackson can get a job with the Bengals, well, good for him.
Woody is correct in the sense that this battle Mayfield has chosen to fight with Jackson is a waste of time. Let’s say, hypothetically, Mayfield was so convincing in his argument that Jackson is “fake” that Hue Jackson’s fakeness was now regarded as a known fact.
Woody is 41 years old. He played in the NFL for more than a decade. He has seven kids. This is a man Baker Mayfield could possibly learn something from.
He’s not ready for that yet. But he will be. That’s just how growing up works.