“What’s amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning,” Sherman told the NFL.com’s Michael Silver. “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.”
By midafternoon Tuesday, handshakegate was in full bloom, with video being scanned again and again to try to determine just what went down. It shows players from each side meeting for the coin toss and players speaking to one another and exchanging handshakes. It can’t be determined for sure, though, whether Mayfield and Sherman shook hands. After the toss, when players often exchange hands or words again, Mayfield skips off and Sherman appears to wave goodbye.
Whatever the case, the motivation fired up Sherman and San Francisco. The Niners beat the Browns, 31-3, and Sherman intercepted a Mayfield pass two minutes into the game. And Bosa, the Niners’ rookie defensive end, took a shot at Mayfield after sacking him. He mimicked a famous Mayfield moment after the quarterback’s Oklahoma team beat Bosa’s Ohio State in 2017, pretending to plant a flag in the turf at Levi’s Stadium. It was that kind of night for Mayfield, who was sacked four times (fumbling twice and losing one) and completed 8 of 22 passes for 100 yards with two interceptions. He ended up watching from the bench as the Browns dropped to 2-3 while San Francisco remained undefeated with its fourth win.
Sherman, who is in his second season in San Francisco, noted that Mayfield has won all of nine NFL games over two seasons.
“Respect the game,” Sherman said of the coin toss. “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 [the Chiefs’ 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."
That last part seems unlikely but Sherman was rolling. He brought up a GQ profile in which Mayfield questioned the New York Giants’ decision to draft Daniel Jones out of Duke. “I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones. Blows my mind. … Some people overthink it. That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.”
Jones is 2-1 as the Giants’ starter since replacing Eli Manning in Week 3.
“There’s no reason for him to say and do those things, especially given how little he’s accomplished,” Sherman said. “That’s where he’s gonna have to grow up. He might get there, but he has a long way to go.”