CLEVELAND — Quarterback Baker Mayfield understands what the Cleveland Browns and everything that surrounds the team means to fans in Northeast Ohio, and that included the beloved bullmastiff mascot, Swagger.
When Swagger passed away on Friday after suffering a stroke at just six years of age and news of the loss was reported by his handler, Justin McLaughlin, Mayfield took to Instagram to share images from a photoshoot the two had done and wrote a heartfelt caption to accompany the classic pictures.
“We love you and we’ll miss you,” Mayfield wrote. “Doggy heaven got a good one today. #RIPSwagger #dawgpound.”
Mayfield’s post has generated more than 237,000 likes and nearly 2,000 comments.
Along with Mayfield, ardent Browns fans and World Wrestling Entertainment NXT superstar Johnny Gargano expressed his condolences on Instagram.
Gargano shared two photos of himself and his family with Swagger on the field at FirstEnergy Stadium along with a caption featuring broken heart and crying emojis.
“#RIPSwagger,” Gargano wrote. “Thanks for always being the best boy to Candice and I.”
Swagger, who along with his son, SJ, hailed from FD Farms in Rootstown, and led the Browns out of the tunnel for home games since 2014, with the lone exception being the 2017 game against the Minnesota Vikings in London.
The Browns had a British bullmastiff lead them out onto the field for that game to keep the tradition going.
SJ, a 15-month old, took over for his father on Sunday, November 10 when the Browns hosted and defeated the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium. SJ has earned the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen badge and will make pre-game visits to Dawg Pound Drive, just like Swagger did in his career.
In addition to announcing Swagger’s passing, McLaughlin revealed the loveable mastiff battled cancer for more than a year before his passing.
“We’re heartbroken by the passing of our beloved mascot, Swagger,” the Browns posted to their official Instagram account. “As a constant presence on gameday and the leader of the Dawg Pound, Swagger was a proud member of our team for six seasons. RIP.”