Baker Mayfield, the crotch-grabbing, beer-chugging starting QB of the Cleveland Browns, is in line to become the next big thing in the NFL, whether you like it or not. Typing that sentence, as a Browns fan, almost blows my mind. The franchise that has trotted out Jeff Garcia, Johnny Manziel, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, and so many other mediocre quarterbacks throughout my life finally has their guy—a true star ready to lead the Browns to the promised land.
And here I am, sitting in an RV decked out in orange and brown signage while Mayfield and his newlywed wife, Emily, take a tour of the cozy palace on wheels. The luxurious vehicle is probably as spacious as most New York City apartments, but Emily jokes that it won’t be making a stop in the Mayfields’ driveway anytime soon. After all, it is the QB RV, first made famous during the last season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, but recently upgraded to help announce Mayfield’s investment in BODYARMOR sports drink.
As a Cleveland native and long-suffering Browns fan, this is my Mecca.
Mayfield’s rise to stardom isn’t going to slow down, and the attention he’s receiving isn’t going to fade. The Browns are now—for the first time maybe ever—the “it” team of the NFL. Adding Odell Beckham Jr. to an already promising up-and-coming team with a star QB will do that. With the microscope of the sports world on the Browns, Baker’s motto isn’t going to change. He’s going to do things his way, no matter what people think.
“I probably won’t ever change,” Mayfield explains while we sit in the souped-up RV. “That’s just me. I mean, there’s growing up and lessons you learn throughout life, but you know, I’m always going to be who I am and enjoy that.”
Mayfield’s story is well documented, from his time as a walk-on to a Heisman winner and the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. The public feuds have quieted in recent months, but he has beefed publicly with Colin Cowherd and his former head coach Hue Jackson, promising that he’ll never be a guy who holds back on and off the field. When I bring up Jackson’s recent comments that it’s on Mayfield to clear the air between the two, he quickly looks down with a grin and chuckles. “It’s not,” he says. And that’s that.