There’s a saying “don’t poke the bear” and the National Sports Media has been poking Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. During the offseason, there was positive talk of the rookie’s second season with the Browns. Some could argue too much hype and pressure surrounding the team to produce at an elite level.
After the team’s first loss of the season, the media changed their tune and began questioning Mayfield. Social media has been lighting up with jabs between Mayfield and former New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown. ESPN analyst Rex Ryan said Mayfield was “overrated as hell,” which led to Mayfield responding, “If you don’t wear black and orange you don’t matter.” That day the Browns went on to beat the Baltimore Ravens, 40-25.
Mayfield has always been a polarizing player since his college days. He has had his ability questioned and he proves critics wrong. Perhaps he does need that fire to motivate him. Browns’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. believes so. He had this to say about the Browns leader “I would just encourage everyone who talks about Baker in the media to keep antagonizing him. Keep making him mad because that’s what you’re going to get. This is somebody who’s been fueled off that all his life and the more you poke fun at him, the more he’s going to poke back. So, I just love to see him in his element and just being him.”
The Browns face the San Francisco 49ers Monday night and the 49ers are 4.5 favorites. They are coming off a bye week with a 3-0 record, however; the Browns have momentum from their decisive win over the Ravens last week. When the teams face-off, how will the bear react to being poked? Will Mayfield have that fire and silence the critics? The answers will be found on the National big stage tonight.