CINCINNATI — Sunday was a great day to be a Cleveland Brown. The team made sure of that with a convincing 41-16 win over the Bengals down in Cincinnati.
But before, during, and after the game, much of the conversation revolved around a man who wasn't even at Paul Brown Stadium: Odell Beckham Jr.
The rocky relationship between the Browns and the embattled wide receiver reached a breaking point this week, and on Friday the organization announced it would be cutting ties with Beckham after less than three seasons. Although general manager Andrew Berry said there were several reasons for the split, the final straw appeared to come when Beckham's father posted a video on social media that ripped quarterback Baker Mayfield for failing to throw to his son.
Mayfield has admitted he was "surprised" by Odell Sr.'s antics, but following today's game he told reporters he had no ill will towards Odell Jr.
"I wish him well," Mayfield said. "From a personal standpoint, he's a good friend of mine. We still haven't talked, but that doesn't change things. I wish him well. I wish him the best in his career."
The OBJ drama was a distraction in the days leading up to the "Battle of Ohio," and was especially unwanted with the 4-4 Browns in desperate need of a win. But Mayfield and the team were able to hunker down and get back over .500, with the QB throwing for 218 yards and two touchdowns as the thousands of Browns fans in attendance chanted his name and gave him a standing ovation.
"I'm worried about the guys in our locker room," he said. "I'm proud of these guys, how they were able to focus up despite all the bulls--t that was going on this week. ... We're going to see if we can build on it and continue to get better."
Beckham is not technically set to be placed on waivers until Monday, but was officially listed as inactive for Week 9. Second-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones started in his place, and responded by hauling in a 60-yard touchdown that gave Cleveland a 21-7 second-quarter lead.
"We've needed to hit these deep shots for a while," Mayfield explained. "It's not like he's not capable of doing that. Donovan's been a guy that we can rely on and continue to count on, as you can see with his two very, very critical catches in this game."
Mayfield, a former walk-on-turned-Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick, has been no stranger to adversity in his career. The 26-year-old called the recent situation with Beckham "unique," but knew the team would meet the challenge head-on.
"It's just the type of team we have," he said. "I trust the guys in this locker room. I've said it over and over again, and I truly mean it. When adversity hits, nobody flinched."