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Ivey: Baker Mayfield should not apologize for his actions

| Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On Saturday night, Oklahoma played Ohio State in a highly anticipated early season matchup between top-five teams.

Much of the focus coming into the game was on Baker Mayfield, the All-American quarterback for Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy favorite. Many wondered how Mayfield would perform in a hostile environment like Ohio Stadium.

Mayfield didn’t disappoint.

He finished 27-for-35 with 386 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, and he led a second-half Sooners surge to defeat then-No. 2 Ohio State on its home field, 31-16.

After the game, the quarterback decided to celebrate the big win.

Mayfield took a giant OU flag, ran across the field with it and spiked it in the middle of Ohio State’s field at the 50-yard line. ESPN cameras broadcasted the act as it happened.

Naturally, people saw it and went to social media to voice their displeasure.

Many people criticized Mayfield’s act as classless. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said after the game that the flag planting was “out of character” for Mayfield.

On Monday, Mayfield issued an apology for the flag-planting.

“After the game, I did not mean for it to be disrespectful toward any Ohio State people at all, especially not the team or the players, because they’re a great team and a great program,” Mayfield said during a press conference. “I didn’t mean it to be disrespectful at all. We do the flag thing at OU-Texas, so that’s just something I got caught up in [after] an emotional win. It should have been something I did in the locker room, so I apologize for doing it in the middle of the field.”

No Baker, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you feel you have to apologize for celebrating one of the best performances of your career. I’m sorry you have to apologize for doing a harmless victory celebration that didn’t physically hurt anybody. I’m sorry you and your teammates are being criticized for celebrating a great team performance and an impressive victory in one of the toughest places to play in the country against one of the best football teams in the country.

There is nothing wrong with what Mayfield did, and he shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

First of all, if Ohio State fans are so angry about Mayfield planting an OU flag on their field, the solution is simple: Don’t let Mayfield pass for 386 yards and three touchdowns on your home field. Don’t give him a reason to plant the flag in the first place. Don’t let the Sooners score 21 unanswered points in the second half. Mayfield and his teammates earned the right to plant that flag that night by firmly beating Ohio State on their home field. Don’t want to see them plant the flag? Then simply win, and you won’t have to worry about it.

This incident didn’t just spring out of nowhere. There is a little history going back to last season, when Ohio State firmly beat Oklahoma on their home field 45-24. After that game, Ohio State players sang their alma mater on the Oklahoma field, an act that angered some Oklahoma players.

If this were last year, I would be writing the same thing about Oklahoma that I am about Ohio State now: Don’t want Ohio State to sing the alma mater on your field? Then win, and you won’t have to worry about it.

Oklahoma didn’t have to worry about it Saturday and celebrated a big time revenge win. And now it is being criticized for it.

Things like what Mayfield did after the game Saturday are what make sports fun to watch. That raw emotion and passion after accomplishing a big win shouldn’t be criticized, but accepted. Athletes are human beings, not robots. Football is a game of emotion. All sports are. Obviously, the game against Ohio State was an emotional one for Mayfield. As long as the celebration isn’t excessive (and Mayfield’s wasn’t), then there should be no problem.

If you are upset about an athlete celebrating a big win after you failed to stop him from winning, then you are the one with the problem.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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