Sooner fans will find this hard to believe, but it isn’t always easy to cheer for Baker Mayfield.
OU types love the guy, and rightfully so. He’s the greatest Sooner football player of all time. A three-time All-American, one of only three in program history. A three-time Heisman Trophy finalist, and the winner of it in 2017.
The quarterback was brash and cheeky and even a little cocky during his days in Norman, which rubbed pretty much every other fan base the wrong way.
But over the past couple of years, Mayfield has become way more lovable.
A week ago, he was named the starting quarterback in Tampa Bay, a double-edged sword if there ever was one. Mayfield, the former No. 1 pick who is with his fourth team in two years, needed to win the job to prove himself worthy of being a starting quarterback in the NFL, but in winning the job, he will replace the ever-popular, ever-successful but now-retired Tom Brady.
Quite honestly, I hope Mayfield has a great season.
These past few years have been difficult for Mayfield, both on the field and off of it. He is a much more sympathetic figure now than he’s been in a long time, so in my recurring feature “Three things,” today we are looking at three things I hope for Baker Mayfield.
Following Brady will be difficult, but if Mayfield can continue the momentum he’s built in the preseason, that will take off some of the heat. In two preseason games, he was 14 of 15 for 105 yards and two touchdowns, which made for a passer rating of 135.4.
Now, Mayfield isn’t going to finish the season completing 93.3% of his passes, but he’s nevertheless got a chance to have some consistency and pop.
Dave Canales is the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, and his system is heavy on outside zone runs. That puts the quarterback on the move a lot with rollouts and bootlegs and the like, situations in which Mayfield thrived at OU.
Mayfield and his wife, Emily, recently filed a petition in district court in Austin, Texas, Mayfield’s hometown. They are seeking information about the possible misappropriation of $12 million by a firm run by some of Mayfield’s family members, including his father and brother.
No lawsuit has been filed, but it clearly seems there are big issues within the family.
“I’ll say this, it’s been a long time coming for that,” Mayfield told reporters in Tampa Bay of the petition. “I’m not going to comment on any details, but yeah, I’ve been dealing with that stuff for years now.”
Considering how close the Mayfields seemed during Baker’s days at OU, this is a sad turn of events. And if $12 million has been lost, some have estimated that could be as much as 75% of his total salary after taxes and fees.
Mayfield deserves to know what happened.
Mayfield has been yanked around these past few years.
He played hurt much of the 2021 season in Cleveland, and how did the Browns repay him? They started playing footsie with Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans castoff who had been accused of sexually assaulting numerous massage therapists. Mayfield didn’t take kindly to the Browns talking to Watson, so Mayfield demanded a trade.
He landed in a mess in Carolina, where he was benched, then waived after 12 games. He was claimed off of waivers by the Los Angeles Rams, who threw him into emergency duty as the starter. Mayfield literally got off the plane in SoCal and won a game 48 hours later, directing the NFL’s longest two-minute-drill, game-winning drive in at least 45 years.
It’s been madness.
Mayfield is likely facing his final shot at proving he is a starting quarterback in the NFL, so here’s hoping the situation in Tampa is stable. The Bucs have good ownership and solid coaches. Considering that Mayfield had success with one of the most dysfunctional franchises in sports – he led the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades – a bit of stability with the Bucs could go a long way.