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Edmonds: Mayfield may be the chosen one in Cleveland

| Thursday, September 6, 2018

With Thursday marking the opening of the 2018 NFL season in Philadelphia, I figured it’d be appropriate to address the potential for one team — the Cleveland Browns. 

In full transparency, I am neither an NFL fan or even a Cleveland fan for that matter. Having grown up in Oklahoma to a Notre Dame family, my interest in football rarely extend beyond the amateur level. 

However, not even I can ignore Browns’ abysmal season last year. As only the second team ever to go 0-16, Cleveland found itself in a strange position, as many were angered by the so-called “perfect season”, going so far as holding a parade in protest, attended by thousands. 

The Browns have been on a quest over the past decade to build their team and brand around a superstar quarterback, including several former Notre Dame players such as Brady Quinn and DeShone Kizer. 

So how has a team that has continually receives high draft picks, including seven first-round picks in the last decade and back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in the last two years, only posted double-digit wins once in the last 20 seasons?

More importantly, I can’t help but wonder why they keep investing in quarterbacks who continually turn out to be busts. Isn’t that arguably the definition of insanity – trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

I’ll admit, the assertion that the Brown’s management is insane on the grounds that they keep drafting quarterbacks is a stretch considering each player has the potential to revive a dying franchise. The reality is something hasn’t been working, but I’m starting to believe that their newest addition to the quarterback carousel — 2018 No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield — might be the savior they’re looking for. 

My dislike for Mayfield is a sore subject for many of my die-hard Boomer Sooner fans back home who would defend him through nearly anything. I want to like his walk-on turned Heisman narrative, but he’s simply too cocky for me (I know, coming from the girl who declared her love for Russell Westbrook just two weeks ago). 

That said, Mayfield has posted an impressive preseason, opening his career with 212 passing yards for two touchdowns. He’s continued his steady performance, complete 9 of 16 passes on 138 yards — all in the first half — in the final preseason game against the Lions.

He may not be able to make all the flashy plays he made back in college, but his creativity in the pocket could make him just the steady leader Cleveland’s been looking for.

Having been named the back-up quarterback behind newly-acquired Tyrod Taylor — coming from three seasons with the Buffalo Bills — just this past Tuesday, Mayfield’s sure to use that as motivation. C’mon, head coach Hue Jackson had to know he was simply recreating the walk-on experience, challenging Mayfield to elevate his game.

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said it best when describing Mayfield’s attitude back at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

“He doesn’t need much,” Andrews said. “It could be the smallest thing in the world, but in his head it’s the world ending, the biggest thing ever, and he’s gonna prove you wrong. People who are good at what they do have that drive.”

I’ll probably never be able to find it in myself to cheer for Mayfield. Personally, he’s had a few too many antics. But, this is no Johnny Manziel 2.0. This is the real deal. Enjoy it Cleveland. 

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

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