Is Baker Mayfield The Answer to the Cleveland Browns’ Question?

Baker Mayfield is the embodiment of faith and hope and love for the game that Cleveland Browns fans have everywhere. At least some think he is. He’s a risk and a gamble and a wild card and a wild one as the Browns are going out on a limb and betting the farm on a hothead who’s got a hot arm who hopefully can get on a hot streak. We’ll all have to just wait and see how it turns out because right now he’s just numbers on paper. Here’s what an ESPN staff writer had to say about Mayfield being the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft:

Pat McManamon

ESPN Staff Writer

 

“The Cleveland Browns surprised the NFL world by making quarterback Baker Mayfield the first overall pick in the draft Thursday night.

The Browns has been expected to take a quarterback and had insisted Mayfield was under consideration through the pre-draft process. Most speculation still centered on USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, but momentum started to build in the last few days that the Browns favored Mayfield.

Cleveland also had the fourth pick Thursday and used it to select Denzel Ward, a cornerback back from Ohio State.

Mayfield, who had a stellar college career at Oklahoma but also made headlines with his behavior on and off the field, will be tasked with turning around a Browns team that went 0-16 last season.

Mayfield joins a roster that has Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback and Drew Stanton as the backup. The Browns hope to play Taylor this season, allowing Mayfield time to learn and grow. Mayfield, though, said at the scouting combine he would never “settle” for a backup role.

The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002, which is the longest active drought in the NFL. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have had 28 different starting quarterbacks — the most in the league during that span.

Baker Mayfield will be tasked with turning around a Browns franchise coming off an 0-16 season in 2017. Harry How/Getty Images

Mayfield led FBS with a 70.5 completion percentage in 2017, and he set a single-season record by averaging 11.5 yards per attempt. He threw for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

But Mayfield also garnered negative attention in recent years for his on-field antics, which included making an inappropriate gesture toward Kansas’ sideline and for planting Oklahoma’s flag on Ohio State’s logo at the 50-yard line after the Sooners’ victory over the Buckeyes. And if that wasn’t enough, on top of all that, Mayfield also was arrested last year in Arkansas on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. He reached a plea deal last June and paid fines for several of the charges.

Throughout the draft process, the Browns said they felt Mayfield had admitted to mistakes and they were behind him. Browns general manager John Dorsey even joked with Mayfield at the team’s combine interview, asking how he liked food trucks, a reference to the February 2017 arrest that took place near food trucks.

Mayfield, who is from Austin, Texas, transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after his freshman season. During his college career, he threw for 14,607 yards and had 131 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 21 TDs and caught another during his college career.”

The Politics of Sports, a.k.a., Who Wants To Be Uninvited To The White House?

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“You could see the end to this awkward dance between the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and President Donald Trump coming from 140 characters away.

Less than a day after so many prominent members of the Warriors reiterated their stance that they didn’t want to visit to White House to celebrate their title, and just hours after Trump’s inciteful rally in Alabama where he took aim at NFL players who protest the national anthem, he wasted no time in taking to Twitter – again.

‘Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!’ Trump tweeted.”  https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2017/09/23/donald-trump-rescinds-white-house-invitation-stephen-curry-warriors/696136001/

Wow.  

Much could be said, but here I yield to another writer, Michel Wilbon.

The following article is from “Wilbon,” (as Tony Kornheiser calls him), co-host of ESPN’s PTI, Pardon the Interruption, sports show.  Michael Wilbon hit the nail on the head.  In light of the ongoing media feud between the President of the United States, who rules from the White House, and athletes in the NBA and the NFL, I could write my own thesis or treatise on the subject, but Wilbon beat me to the punch.  Thanks Mike. 

“It was just before 3 a.m. Saturday, and I could hear the phone buzz from the incoming text. It was from Rex Chapman, a friend of many years now after I’d covered a lot of his college and NBA basketball career. For those who don’t remember Chapman, he was the sweet-shooting guard from Kentucky — white kid who could jump out of the gym — about to turn 50 this October. The despair he was feeling was coming right through the cellphone screen.

The text, in part, read, ‘I’m sorry about Trump. I’ve never been more ashamed. I hope you knew this before, but in case you didn’t I need to say it now. Love you Brother. Rex.’

This was an American man — white — feeling compelled to reach out to another — black — to make perfectly clear he didn’t support any of the garbage coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Not in the president’s Friday night Alabama speech, not in any rantings on Twitter. That Chapman didn’t think taking a knee during the national anthem meant a black football player was a “son of a bitch,” that he didn’t want any part of the hideous racial divisiveness that Trump was instigating.

I texted Chapman back to tell him I’ve known him well enough and long enough to know the only thing he has in common with Trump is race, and I already knew what side of any divide he was on … and that I loved him for composing and sending that text.

Chapman’s 3 a.m. communication was also a forecast of the storm coming right back at the president. Trump was either clueless about the blowback he’d get from the brotherhood of pro athletes, particularly African-Americans, or he’d seriously miscalculated the willingness of an industry of powerful people, most of them white, to stand with those “sons of bitches” who Trump demanded be fired for expressing the most fundamental American right.

Whether Trump was oblivious or misguided, I doubt he expected LeBron James to stand up for rival Steph Curry on Twitter. Could he have had any idea that white teammates would rally around black ones in locker rooms and on sidelines Sunday? Or that the team owners he wanted to fire those black protesters would link arms Sunday with those very players during the anthem? And the last thing he could’ve expected was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, his friend, saying in a statement, “I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.”

The beginning of Kraft’s statement, that there is “no greater unifier in this country than sports and nothing more divisive than politics,” might as well have been the NFL’s official position going into the day’s games. It even one-upped the statement from the measured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who also called Trump’s comments “divisive.”

Those who thought Trump would fire back at Kraft and Goodell personally were left waiting. The president doesn’t waste his nastiest insults on white men, even those who disagree with him, when he has black men such as Curry and Colin Kaepernick to attack. And few, if any, African-Americans were surprised that the man who led the Obama birther movement and called Mexicans rapists said during an Alabama speech that a football player taking a knee during the anthem is a “son of a bitch.”

For a great many of us who find Trump and his actions somewhere between objectionable and loathsome, this latest episode illustrates once again that he is what we think he is. Black men taking a knee during the anthem enraged Trump, but a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members carrying torches also included, in his words, “very fine people” who were just there to protest the removal of Confederate statues.

This isn’t lost on anybody paying even scant attention. As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “These are … probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess since Vietnam … our differences, I’m speaking in terms of values, are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion and civil discourse and dignity. I thought his comments about NFL players are as bad as anything he’s said to this point. You’re talking about young men who are peacefully protesting, hallmarks of our country.

‘How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans’ but ‘Free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest’? No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.’

There’s an old adage in sports that conveys: You are what your record says you are. We know what Trump’s record is regarding race. And in taking on two leagues, one (the NBA) with some of the most famous people on the planet and another (the NFL) that features the most popular form of sports entertainment in America, Trump emboldened a population that is often reluctant to rally or take risk. Suddenly, with public backing from owners and leagues, players aren’t feeling their careers are at risk to the same degree as before.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wondered aloud during a television interview Sunday whether Trump is ready for the blowback from a community of people with so much national and global influence. And now those people, even the anthem-kneelers, find themselves being patted on the shoulder by sympathizers if not allies.

I texted Rex Chapman later in the afternoon to ask permission to share his thoughts publicly. Like millions of us, he was watching and listening, hoping to see definitive signs that we had progressed as a nation in our lifetimes, hoping that a choir of voices could overwhelm Trump’s.

I’m going to forward to Chapman the Facebook post of Dan Rather, a man who knows the sweep of American history. Toward the end of an eloquent and stunning rebuke of Trump, Rather sounded a note of cautious optimism that I’m certain Chapman was also getting at with his Saturday morning text.

‘We are not a nation of majority bigots,’ the former CBS newsman wrote. ‘The strident ranks of the intolerant can be overwhelmed by enough people agreeing that this is not who we are or who we want to be. Mr. Trump’s cheers can be drowned out by a chorus of justice.’ Even if that chorus is built one voice — or one text — at a time.

——-

Michael Wilbon is one of the nation’s most respected sports journalists and an industry pioneer as one of the first sportswriters to broaden his career beyond newspapers to include television, radio and new media. He is a co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.

https://theundefeated.com/features/donald-trumps-nfl-comments-inspired-a-response-he-didnt-see-coming/ 

Note To Ezekiel Elliott: Don’t Dig Your Own Grave  

 

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The Dallas Cowboys in general, and Ezekiel Elliott in specific, are digging their own grave. Elliot was just suspended for six – count ‘em – SIX games. That’s over a third of the season. Sheesh. That’s like a 60-year-old missing twenty years of life. It’s like not living for the first four months of the year.  It’s like not showing up for work on a 9-5 job until well after 11 every day.  That’s a formula for losing, and losing at the game of life is not something that any of us should want to do.

So is this suspension a big deal?  I’ll say.

What’s a Super Bowl favorite to do without the heart and soul of their team?  Lose.  And lose they will.  The Cowboys are implicated as much as Elliott in this me because they defended him and covered for him and basically acted like the investigation was no big deal.  Wrong answer.

When you dig your own grave you’re way behind before you even start and you’re just about out before you even get to the plate. You don’t want to give your enemies and adversaries and opponents and rivals a head start in a short race, and that’s exactly what Ezekiel Elliott did to his team and his teammates by making bad decisions.  Now, the Eagles, Giants, and yes, even the lowly Redskins have more of a chance at winning the NFC East without Elliott in the lineup for a third of the season. 

Oh well. People make their own choices, and sometimes people in general, and athletes in specific, dig their own grave through addictions to drugs or drinking or sexual activities or senseless behavior.   “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/addiction

And that’s the bottom line. Does Ezekiel Elliot realize how he has affected his life, much less his team?  The problem, or problems, Ezekiel Elliot has caused for himself are bad enough, but the injuries to his former girlfriend and the suspension from the team hurts people way beyond his personal space.  Maybe the suspension, if it is upheld, will give Zeke time to think and reflect and get help and mend his ways.

They say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  And in Zeke’s life, there’s a smoldering bonfire ready to explode if he doesn’t put it out.

Why Philly Fans Booed Roger Goodell

Goodell-Draft-2017

I’m from Philly (remember?) Anyway, I absolutely, positively and unequivocally understand why the Philly fans booed Roger Goodell during the 2017 NFL Draft, held on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. And they didn’t just boo him, they booed the MESS out of him, or at least they tried.

And if you don’t understand, keep reading.

If an effort to help the Commissioner avoid the inevitable in-draft boo birds, the NFL called on a Philly fan favorite, and that didn’t even work. In fact, it failed miserably.  

Here’s how one sports writer saw it:

“Roger Goodell brought former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski to the podium in Philadelphia to start round two. The crowd, which seemed to be nearly as large as it was on Thursday night, didn’t pull back in the face of the bespectacled human shield. Instead, they continued to relentlessly boo Goodell.

Things changed dramatically when Goodell turned the floor over to Jaworski, who was cheered loudly and who had the kind of presence and energy that gets a crowd going. He said that people of Philadelphia will eventually embrace those who do the right thing, and he expressed confidence that the City of Brotherly Love will eventually show something other than hatred for Goodell.

And then Goodell came back to the podium, and the booing instantly became as loud as ever. (Reportedly, Goodell makes $35 Million per year. That’s 35 MILLION dollars. Do you know how far 35 million can go?  I can’t even imagine how much good will is being lost on that one executive, who has made some questionable and disputable decisions in his tenure.)

Goodell can ignore the noise as much as he wants, but the owners surely don’t like it. Efforts to laugh it off or playfully welcome more booing have legitimized it. The only way to end it is to keep the Commissioner out of sight, and to have people who will be embraced by the locals call out the picks.

With the draft going on the road, the folks calling the picks should be local, starting with a well-known favorite son (like, for the first round in Philly, Sylvester Stallone) and then incorporating others, like Jaworski, Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, etc., etc.”  It’s a great idea. (by  Mike Florio on April 28, 2017) http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/04/28/ron-jaworski-cant-get-the-fans-to-stop-booing-roger-goodell/

So why did Goodell get booed in Philly?

This generation can’t be fooled or phased; they can smell false and fake and two-faced and phony folks a mile away. But if you’re honest and frank and genuine and true, God, and eventually people, will validate you. This generation is craving genuine, meaningful, honest-to-goodness truth.  And that only comes from above.

So, be real. Be legitimate.  Be bona fide. Then everyone will realize and recognize your authenticity.

 But if you’re not, . . .

Don’t Bet Against Brady

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I’m not a Tom Brady fan. I’m not. And I don’t like the New England Patriots. I don’t. But something tells me to tell you not to bet against Brady and the Pats in Super Bowl LI. Don’t do it. As much as I don’t want them to win, I think they just might pull off and turn in another super, Super Bowl.

 Some say that sports and life are polar opposites. In fact, sports and life are actually opposite sides of the same coin.  In both sports and life, there are some things that you thought would never happen and yet happen they do. In sports and in life, there are the improbable, implausible, almost impossible occurrences and incidents that no one, and I mean no one, could even dream up in a thousand years and yet “Voila!” – they appear and emerge and transpire right in before our very eyes.

 Such is the case with Tom Brady. He is headed for yet another Super Bowl, after a season of suspension and turmoil, and perhaps the only thing that stands between him and another Super Bowl ring is a favorable coin flip or two.

 This year, Matt Ryan may be the sentimental favorite. But Brady is still Brady. He’s still coached by Belichick and he is the only member of the Patriots roster left from the 2005 Super Bowl Team. If there’s one constant in the Patriots puzzle, it’s Brady.

“Since the first week of the season, it has seemed inevitable that it would end this way, with Tom Brady in his seventh Super Bowl and two years of drama finally winding down to one final scene.

 From the moment the New England Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals in the one game they seemed most likely to lose without Brady — on the road, in prime time, in the first start of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career — the trajectory of the Patriots’ season was set. That first month certified Bill Belichick’s ability to adapt to his circumstances, without Brady and then, incredibly, without Garoppolo, too, shutting out the Houston Texans with rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett under center.

But everything after — the 13-1 record since Brady came off his suspension, the nearly flawless regular-season statistics, the relentlessness of the Patriots’ offense even after Rob Gronkowski was hurt — was testament to Brady’s own ability to compartmentalize and carry on.” By Judy Battist, NFL Media reporter

Sports science stipulates cohesion and consistency and comrade on any and every team. And yet, with all of the shuffling and shifting, the one constant with the Brady Bunch is, you guessed it, Brady. The Patriot Way is the Brady Way. Brady has won more than most. So it’s difficult, nay pert near impossible, to bet against Brady. So don’t do it. Don’t bet against Brady. Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me later.

Brady, the University of Michigan stud, was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (THE SIXTH ROUND!) of the 2000 NFL draft. In Brady’s 13 full seasons as a starter (he missed nearly all of 2008 with a torn ACL), the Patriots have earned six trips to the Super Bowl, winning four. Brady has won three Super Bowl MVP awards, two league MVP awards (2007, 2010), has been selected to eleven Pro Bowls, and has led the Patriots to more division titles than any other quarterback in NFL history, with thirteen. Brady is fifth on the all-time list for career passing yards and third for career touchdown passes. His career postseason record is 22–8; his playoff win total is the most in NFL history. Unbelievable.

 Some players aren’t pegged or don’t seem to have the potential to pan out and prosper. Yet someway somehow, they seemingly, consistently and continuously find a way to win. We might not like them but we sure do respect them. They give us patterns and paradigms to follow. Whatever happens, and in spite of who comes and despite who goes, there stand players like Tom Brady, like a stone wall. He’s endured derision and disdain from everyone from Roger Goodell to me in this blog. But like the Bible says, Brady is steadfast and unmovable.

 So, like him or lump him, just don’t bet against him.

Who Won The 2016 NFL Draft? (I’ll Tell You Who Didn’t!)

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Who da heck is Carson Wentz? From North Dakota? Seriously? I mean, really? We’re going to win with this guy? Oh well — that’s what they said about David. Wentz is an unknown, unheard of unlikely lad who apparently got the attention of the Eagles Organization and now . . . well, he’s an Eagle. Eagle’s fans can only hope for the best.

In other news, NFL prospect Laremy Tunsil’s Twitter account Thursday night briefly showed a video of the Ole Miss offensive tackle huffing what could have been marijuana through a gas mask attached to a water pipe. Did someone say timing is everything? Poor guy. He still may make millions, but his stock has certainly  stumbled. 

For Tunsil, the timing couldn’t have been worse: Thursday was the night of the NFL Draft in Chicago. Tunsil, one of the highest-rated players in this year’s draft, was initially touted as a possible No. 1 choice, but wound up being picked No. 13 by the Miami Dolphins.

But after news of the video spread, Tunsil’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, defended Tunsil, telling ESPN that the player’s Twitter account had been hacked. In addition, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze told the sports network that the video was “from a long time ago.”

And Finally, Ezekiel Elliot choose to wear a very distracting crop-top shirt to Draft Night. Seriously. A crop-top is the male equivalent of a mid-drift, and there are definitely places ladies should not wear this garment. So the same should go for the guys, right? Walking the NFL Draft’s red carpet on Thursday night, the Dallas Cowboys’ new running back, Ezekiel Elliott, unbuttoned his baby-blue suit, revealed the world’s most distracting male crop top, and surprised everyone with his impeccable abs. (Or were you just looking at his creamy-white pants?)

“I wanted to be a little different than everyone else,” the 20-year-old explained, wearing a silk bow tie and loafers in robin’s-egg blue. “I’m known as the hero in the half-shirt, so I had to go out on the red carpet with a crop top.”

Indeed, he “thinks” he had to: The former Ohio State running back was known for rolling up his jersey during the team’s 2014 national championship season. When the NCAA banned crop tops last year (yes, that really happened), an entire campus fought to see Elliott’s abs: Nearly 12,000 people signed a change.org petition to bring his crop top back, “Because Ohio State and football fans want to see their players continue to wear the things that have made them beloved by fans worldwide.”

It is noted that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell immediately fined Elliot for the boneheaded “play.” 

So what have we come to? Kids these days, right? You don’t have to do something unbecoming or stupid or unorthodox to be different and defy conventional wisdom. Being yourself is one thing; going out on a limb just because you want to is another.

Can Cam Carry Carolina?

Cam Newton NFL Draft

So who ya got? Who are you picking to win Super Bowl 50? Peyton or Cam? The Broncos or Carolina? Defense or offense? For me, there are a plethora of plots and subplots in this year’s golden goose of a game, the 50th Super Bowl. But unlike any other Super Bowl, this one will be remembered and recalled and ruminated upon for years to come. And, the play of the quarterback, as always, is front and center stage.

And so the question is this: Can Cam carry Carolina?

As stated earlier in this blog and elsewhere, Cam is the hottest thing since sliced bread when it comes to the NFL. When it comes to gloating and floating and doting over the game that took ownership of a day of the week from the institutional church, Roger Goodell is no dumbbell. He may have missed it way right in 2015 with Brady and “Deflategate” and Goodell may have blown it way left in 2014 with the Ray Rice “Incident,” (https://godandsports.net/2014/09/18/roger-goodell-and-the-nfls-week-from-hell/)  but Goodell certainly can tell that Cam can be a bombshell and this William Tell can ignite a groundswell that can define and carry the entire NFL for years to come. And that’s the storyline of this Super Bowl in a nutshell.

As for Cam, he has carried his team thus far. First of all, Cam can carry his own weight. He was drafted No. 1 and he wears No. 1 and he wants to be No. 1, but he will have to get past Peyton first. And if he loses, all of those records and stats and firsts and figures mean nothing. But if Carolina wins it all . . . Sure there might be next year, but next year will be easier to win again if they win right now.

Cam is carrying his team and his teammates and his conference and his city and his race and his religion and everything else that his haters want to dump on him. And he’s carrying them all, with grace. But how does he do it?

Warren Moon described how Cam is carrying all of this so, so well:

First, we had to prove we could play the position,” Moon said. “Then we had to face questions about our leadership abilities. Even when you look at the guys who played the position in my time — myself, Doug Williams, even a Randall Cunningham — we were all laid back. Now it’s more of a ‘me’ generation and you can show more of your personality. It used to be that you had to be more like a politician than a football player to be a black quarterback. Cam plays the game with his personality.

That’s it! That’s absolutely it. Cam is being HIMSELF. He’s playing the game with his personality. Yes many clam that Cam is a ham, but I beg to differ. If you or I had been through half of what this young man has been through, and he went through all of his stuff in the fishbowl of the public spotlight, we may have acted and reacted differently. Cam has set more records and run for more yards and scored more touchdowns and put up more points than you can shake a stick at. And that’s why winning the Super Bowl is so important for him. As if he hasn’t already validated himsellf.

 

So here’s to a great game. I like Peyton Manning. I do. And if he wins, I will be glad for him. Because this Super Bowl is really a “win win.” Cam or Peyton, both are so deserving and so admired and so well-liked that it’s hard not to root for both of them. So, as they say, may the best team, not necessarily the best quarterback, win.