I would say it started last year during the game versus Ohio State. If you recall, Oklahoma traveled to the Horseshoe for a primetime game versus the Buckeyes. This was a rematch against the team that embarrassed Baker Mayfield and his team in Norman the previous year. This time, though, the task would be much more difficult because the Buckeyes had a more experienced squad and were the favorites by many, including me.
His first half wasn’t that great, in fact, pretty mediocre. Then in the second half came the rollout throw to Michael Jones where he threw a perfect, and I mean perfect, throw between two Ohio State defenders. After that came the split-second dart to his running back, Trey Sermon for a touchdown. Add in the quick release, on-target throws to his H-Back Dimitri Flowers, and the Heisman-looking plays he made during the second half and I knew he was it. Of course, at the time I was very disappointed he beat MY Buckeyes, but Baker showed me what he could be, a superstar. Planting the flag and the cocky-punk attitude made many very angry, but not me.
It just intrigued me more.
Week in and week out from this matchup, he never disappointed in a game. Let it be the comeback against Texas in the Red River Rivalry or the shootout he had with rival Oklahoma State, he showed out in all these games. It was almost like he was playing in a video game. I watched every game I could and he was a must-watch player.
I remember telling my friends that Baker was going to be a good one. I was laughed at and that take was absolutely torn apart by my friends. “He’s too small.” “He faces no defense in the Big 12.” “He’s Johnny Manziel all over again.” These were the things I heard. The Johnny Manziel comparison was the one I liked to debate the most because Baker and Johnny are two completely different players, on and off the field. I knew that at the time, but the Johnny Manziel ‘hangover’ was still going for them.
Then came the Rose Bowl versus Georgia where the Bulldogs came in at the time with a top-five defense in college football. I will admit I was slightly disappointed with Baker’s performance in this game where his team put up 48 points. I know that’s a pretty weird thing to say against a top-five defense, but Baker didn’t have that same performance I was used to seeing on a weekly basis. And, of course, the Sooners lost this game and that would spell the end of Baker’s legendary season, a season where he won the Heisman trophy.
Next came the pre-draft period where Baker’s name started to creep into the top-five of the entire draft. Not everyone felt this way and some felt he was the fourth or fifth best quarterback of the entire draft. With more time, came more people coming to their senses about the kid. The foolish media comparisons of Johnny Manziel were turning to comparisons of Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and even Brett Favre.
Finally came Draft Day, which is basically a holiday to die-hard Browns fans. Rumors were swirling that the first pick was between Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield. I believe with a few hours to go before the draft, most of the talk was that it could very well be Baker. I was getting ready. This could actually happen. My guy, the guy who I watched, rooted for, and supported, could actually be the pick. When the Browns were announced to be on the clock, I was getting nervous, very nervous. When Roger Goodell stepped to the podium, I was basically sweating. I wanted Baker to change who the Browns were. I wanted Baker to be this franchise’s savior. When I heard the name “Baker Mayfield” announced, I was the most excited I had been about the Browns in a while but also relieved. The Baker Show had finally arrived and I knew we were ready for a show as a fan base.
As we look to week six, Baker is 2-1 in games he’s played and he looks like the real deal. Now, I’m not going to say he’s been excellent, but he’s been better than anything we have seen before. He gives us hope and as Browns fans, that’s what we need the most, hope…and well, wins, too.
Baker Mayfield has given us both.
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