Considering that Colin Cowherd called Baker Mayfield “undraftable” in February, it was no surprise that he strongly disagreed with the Oklahoma star becoming the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick in April. On Thursday, Mayfield had a chance to square off directly with Cowherd, and the Heisman Trophy winner was more than able to stiff-arm his way past the FS1 host’s criticism.
The pair set the stage for the interview on Cowherd’s televised program by trading shots on Twitter earlier in the week. After Cowherd tweeted, “Marginal size and athleticism isn’t a NUMBER ONE pick. In any draft. In any sport,” the Browns quarterback, listed at 6-1, replied, “Well it happened bud. Have a nice day!”
Mayfield showed up Thursday prepared for battle, wearing a hooded sweatshirt that bore the word “undraftable,” along with a logo of his initials with his familiar bandanna. At one point in their discussion, Cowherd said of the shirt, “You won the interview with that. Just drop the mic, right there.”
Cowherd began the conversation by noting his frequent criticism of Mayfield, for both on- and off-field incidents, and he asked, “Was there a moment that it inspired you, p—ed you off — when you hear all that stuff, first thought?”
“That you really don’t know me, at all,” Mayfield replied. “I think you hear the headlines — which is what people get paid to do, write whatever to grab people’s attention, there’s no digging, no actual research to it — it was kind of funny to see some of the stuff, not just by you, but a lot of people.”
The most noteworthy exchange occurred when Cowherd showed a clip from a September 2017 game in which Mayfield shredded Ohio State on the road, throwing for 386 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, on 77.1 percent passing in a 31-16 Sooners win. The host was complimentary of the quarterback’s play but took issue with the aftermath of one of the touchdown passes, when Mayfield’s celebration had him running off to the right of the end zone while his teammates converged to the left.
“I don’t like this,” Cowherd said. “Where are you going?”
“Our band is over there,” responded Mayfield. “Our student section is right there, and then straight back to our sideline.”
“What about your team?” Cowherd interjected. The quarterback replied by asking, “Did you watch the rest of the game?” Cowherd shot back by claiming he “watched the whole game.”
“So you saw me celebrate with my teammates [on], like, the three touchdowns before that, too?” Mayfield asked dryly. “You pulled the one clip of me running right there to our fans and people who traveled well to that game, first of all. And then you didn’t show the rest of the clip of me going to the sideline??
“You’re acting like I just ran away from everybody,” he continued. “What is this, a five-second clip you’re showing me, and then I’m off the screen right there?”
“I’d like you to be with your teammates,” Cowherd said.
“Watch the rest of the game,” Mayfield retorted. “I was.”
A few moments later, the former walk-on, a three-year starter for Oklahoma, told Cowherd, “I feel like you’re going for the fact that I’m not a team guy, I’m selfish. Is that what you’re shooting for right here?”
The host denied that accusation, saying he simply thought Mayfield’s “judgment is just a tad off,” and adding, “I don’t love that decision. I don’t love it.”
“The celebration?” Mayfield asked. “Do you see what people do in the league now, celebration-wise?”
“Hip thrusting, not a fan,” Cowherd replied.
Another somewhat testy moment came when Cowherd brought up some of the antics that had at least a few NFL teams concerned that Mayfield was possibly too cocky and demonstrative to be an effective team leader, such as when he grabbed his crotch and yelled a profanity from the sideline during a 2017 matchup with Kansas. “What’s going through your mind when you’re doing that during games?” Cowherd asked.
“Have you played football past high school?” Mayfield replied, to which the host said he had not.
“Football is a violent, competitive game. That’s the way it was always meant to be played. You are supposed to play with an edge,” Mayfield said. “You are actually supposed to impose your will on the other person to win.”
Mayfield acknowledged that he had made “mistakes” unbecoming of “a franchise quarterback,” but noted that “within football there is a lot of trash talk, a lot of stuff that’s not been made aware to everybody.” He added that he had “definitely learned” from his mistakes.
One of those mistakes was a February 2017 arrest for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing while he was partying in Fayetteville, Ark. Cowherd showed a clip of Mayfield running away from police and quickly getting tackled, to which the quarterback said, “There is so much regret about that, because if I didn’t run, there would have been nothing.”
“You wouldn’t have said I was ‘undraftable,’ and then nobody would probably have been questioning me about being the next dropout of football,” he continued. “There’s a lot of regret to it, but at the same time, that was a rude awakening to responsibility and accountability, for me. It was a lesson that was harshly learned. Yeah, I could have learned it over time, but that was very eye-opening for me.”
Cowherd then said, “By the way, that’s the best answer you’ve given me in 10 minutes, by far. … That’s what grown-ups say. That makes me like you more.”
“Now we’re moving somewhere,” Mayfield replied with a smile.
Cowherd laughed and said, “You and I aren’t moving anywhere. You’re going to go be a starting quarterback and I’m going to be a radio idiot, we’ve got our own lives.”
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