CLEVELAND — “You’re not in Kansas anymore,” Baker.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield knows what it means to be disrespected on the football field prior to kickoff, and he responded to it in kind when he was at the University of Oklahoma. With that experience, Mayfield should have known better than motivate an opponent in the NFL with grown men taking seriously signs of disrespect.
When the Browns travelled across the country to play the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, it was Mayfield that did the snubbing, as he refused to shake the hand of veteran cornerback Richard Sherman. That fueled the fire as the 49ers rolled to a 31-3 win and gave the Browns their second four-score loss of the season.
“What’s amazing and annoying was him not shaking hands at the beginning,” Sherman told Mike Silver of NFL.com following the game. “That’s some college s&%!. It’s ridiculous. We’re all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent -- that’s NFL etiquette, and when you pull bush league stuff, that’s disrespectful to the game and believe me, that’s gonna get us fired up.”
Mayfield completed only eight of his 22 attempts for 100 yards with two interceptions, the second of which came on a deflection on a pass that hit wide receiver Antonio Callaway both in the hands and the chest before former Browns defensive back K’Waun Williams returned the ball 51 yards to the Cleveland 49-yard line.
Sherman had the first of the two interceptions, as he jumped a route run by Callaway on the Browns’ second possession of the game, corralled the takeaway and returned it to the Cleveland 41-yard line.
Also, Mayfield had two fumbles, one of which the 49ers recovered, and was sacked four times for 42 lost yards, two of which were registered by former Ohio State Buckeyes standout Nick Bosa.
“I knew the route, I ran it, the receiver took an extra step,” Sherman said. “Baker took an extra hitch because he was getting hit. He took too long to get the ball out. He’s got to throw the ball on time and it would have been a much easier interception. He tried to put some air under it because he was throwing later than he should have. I was still able to get it.”
Although Sherman was critical following the game, he extended the courtesy of a bit of advice for Mayfield going forward.
“Respect the game,” Sherman said. “You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment -- especially when you’re young. He hasn’t earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He’s acting like he was the MVP last year. If (Patrick) Mahomes did that, it would be one thing, but he would never do that because he has too much respect for the game.
“And when you see a guy who doesn’t? You humble him every chance you get because eventually, he will have respect for the league -- or he’ll be out of it.”