D.A.: Baker Mayfield's Animosity Toward Hue Jackson Perfect For Browns

Think Baker Mayfield was being immature or unprofessional this week? Well, he wasn't

Damon Amendolara
November 30, 2018 - 1:28 pm

USA Today Images

Every critic that has charged Baker Mayfield this week with overreacting, being unprofessional, or showing immaturity, is lost. They have failed to recognize the Browns are a different situation. They have been for decades. The Cleveland quarterback shunned Hue Jackson Sunday. He did it again at the postgame podium. He doubled down during the week. And of course, because this is the Age of the Hot Take, someone (multiple someones) had to question his motives. This is ridiculous. 

What you see here from Mayfield is exactly why John Dorsey made the right decision. It's precisely why he was deserving of the top pick. I will raise my hand and admit I was wrong. I thought he was too emotional, too combustible, to be the stable leader of a forlorn franchise. I'm happy to be wrong, because it just underscores how unpredictable sports is. The fire Baker is showing in declaring a rivalry with his former head coach is a positive here. He's lighting the way for a group of young players accustomed to losing, being the punchline of jokes, to find a common purpose. He's underscoring an internal pride in being a Brown. He's saying it's "us versus them." And that is how you change the fortunes of a perennial laughingstock. 

There's no reason for us to begrudge Jackson for taking a gig with the Bengals. This is simple self-preservation. He got the zig in Cleveland, and landed with his buddy Marvin Lewis as a safe zone. Had Lewis been in Carolina or San Francisco or Miami, Mayfield couldn't cry foul about joining the enemy. But those places weren't calling. Hue doesn't have many choices these days. So he went where the gettin' was good, and you can't blame him. 

How Mayfield used that to help his own team, though, is terrific. Circle the wagons on it. Pit your locker room against a common villain. This is how you break a trend of losing, of being losers, of always being the bullied. You declare this is not how it goes anymore. You rally the troops. You proclaim it all ends now. And then you go out and prove it with your play.  Losing organizations need guys that create that edge. The greatest leaders do this. It helps focus on a target. It helps push execution to the next level. It puts a cause on playing in a game that doesn't matter in the playoff race (no matter what Gregg Williams says). 

Mayfield could talk fury and fire and embitterment, but lay an egg on the field. And then it would've all looked silly. But the opposite happened. He had his best game as a pro. The team exploded for a 28-0 lead. They stomped on a rival that was supposedly better than them, and now have a winning record in the AFC North. Let's take a moment to realize how foreign all of this is. The Browns are above .500 in the division heading into December, and held a four-touchdown lead over an opponent. This is the same team that won a single game over the last two years, and they just led a game by four touchdowns. 

Mayfield didn't make this personal out of self-indulgence. Many of his teammates felt the same way (read: Randall, Damarious). Look at the comments of his offensive coordinator this week. Seems like plenty of folks inside the Browns walls had the same animosity toward Hue. What Mayfield did was declare in a common cause, a masthead for a franchise without one for so long. He put the public face on it. This doesn't work every week. You can't play the Disrespect Card forever (although many teams and coaches try). But as this organization makes the transition from bullied to bully, you need some of these moments. No, they're not diplomatic instances. It's not a campfire circle of love. It's necessary to evolving from a loser, though. You can't blame Hue for taking the Bengals job, but it could end up being the best thing that ever happened for the Browns. And the quarterback seized the moment. Bravo, Baker. Bravo. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.