Mac Engel

Baker Mayfield is proving a certain mouthy columnist’s ‘bust’ prediction all too accurate

Baker Mayfield has plenty of time to turn everything around, but when I hastily predicted he would be an NFL bust I had no idea he would work just so hard to prove me right.

Thank you for the content, sir, now it’s time to grow up. This is neither a plea, nor is this a joke, because this ain’t the University of Oklahoma.

My favorite all-time quarterback predictably made a donkey of himself today during his weekly meeting with the Clevaland media.

Baker grew testy with a fairly benign, standard, blah sports question. Click here for the uncomfortable exchange between Baker and Tony Grossi of TheLandonDemand.com, as chronicled by the great Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

It ended with Baker storming off saying, “Was I happy with the drive? No, we didn’t score points. That’s the dumbest question you could ask.

Baker was immediately compared to Ryan Leaf, who while he has been a good commentator for ESPN, he is also one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Baker became aware that the clip went viral, and he followed the lead of our President and took to Twitter to explain himself.

Baker Tweeted, “Everybody wants to hear the truth until they actually get it.... I am who I am and always have been. Don’t call it emotional when it’s convenient and then passion when it fits. I care about winning, so yeah I’m frustrated. If I was to act like it’s okay to lose, then y’all would say that I’ve gotten complacent.

“My sense of urgency is at an all time high. And if I offend anybody along the way... that’s too bad.“

The Browns are playing about as pretty as their color. Despite being a chic pick to make the AFC playoffs, the Browns have Browned it up, due in large part to Mayfield’s regression.

The Browns are 2-5, and Mayfield has completed 57.6 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, and a league “best” 12 interceptions.

Hate to say “Told you so,” because never did I think Baker would do a belly flop from 15,000 feet into Lake Eerie like this.

PREDICTING THE BAKER MAYFIELD BUST

On Dec. 2 2017, Oklahoma and Mayfield were applying their second beat down of TCU in less than a month, this time in the Big 12 title game in Arlington.

I had to write two columns from the game, including the first which was to be put up on www.star-telegram.com as quickly as possible.

In the third quarter, with the game going in favor of OU again, I had to think of what I could write from an outcome that I had already seen only three weeks before.

Mayfield was the best player in college that year and he deserved to win the Heisman Trophy. Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks usually bust. He’s not a tall quarterback. I didn’t have a lot of time, and this was solid math.

I wrote a column that had the headline, “Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will be an NFL bust.”

The column went quite viral, and Mayfield later “liked” it on Twitter. Sooner Nation did not “like” it, and they were kind enough to let me know their thoughts and feelings.

One reader said I would never say that to Baker’s face. I knew in a few months Mayfield would make an appearance in Fort Worth to accept the 2017 Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback.

I knew that he would be in a small room with about three to five reporters. That was my chance to own this to his face.

Before I asked my question I said that back in December a column had been written that predicted he would be an NFL bust; that I knew he saw it because he liked it on Twitter. Then I said, “I’m the guy who wrote that.”

Telling a college kid they are going to be a bust to their face is not something I recommend.

While he took a dig at me, deservedly so, I gained a new level of respect and appreciation for how he handled it. He didn’t pout or block me on Twitter, like his successor, Kyler Murray. Or even their college head coach, Lincoln Riley.

Taking and dealing with criticism and predictions from fans and the media is a part of the job. You can understand what it is - that the “talk” is essentially the marketing element that makes the NFL so successful - or you can be mad.

In that moment, Baker “got it,” and dealt with it like a pro.

BAKER MAYFIELD’S STRUGGLES

As I watched Mayfield play last season with the Browns I thought, “I’m going to have to eat this one.”

But the guy I’ve watched this season looks like a young quarterback who is dealing with NFL defenses, and the reality of trying to reverse the fortunes of what has been a terrible franchise for decades.

The guy I saw at the Fort Worth Club in February of 2018 is not the guy who stormed off today after a “dumb question.”

The guy I saw today who pouted away from the media is going through what I feared may make him a bust: The NFL is hard.

You can be a great player, and still be a bust.

Even the most talented players need dozens of variables to break right, and there is a reason why the Browns have made the playoffs once since 1999.

Baker Mayfield lost his bleep with the media because he’s not playing well, and his team is 2-5.

He may like Tweeting the truth, but here is his truth: He’s a nice looking kid who can throw a pretty pass, but he’s having an awful year playing for one of the worst franchises in the NFL.

Time to grow up, because this ain’t Oklahoma.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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