Carolina Panthers’ Baker Mayfield clears air, denies making remark about Cleveland Browns

CHARLOTTE, NC — Baker Mayfield didn’t deny he wants to beat the Cleveland Browns in the Carolina Panthers opener Sept. 11 at Bank of America Stadium, but he denied he wants to “damn” them after last week’s preseason finale against Buffalo.

That contradicted what NFL Network analyst Cynthia Frelund shared with Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler and Gregg Rosenthal on Monday night’s “Around the NFL” podcast.

Frelund shared on the podcast, repeating to ESPN.com, that she spoke to Mayfield after the Panthers’ 21-0 win and said Mayfield repeated her words when she playfully told him to “damn” her.

“He threw it back,” Frelund told ESPN.com. “It was very harmless on his part. The tone was amiable and happy and excited.”

Mayfield denied making any such comment about the team that made him the top pick of the 2018 draft after Wednesday’s practice.

“First of all, I didn’t say it,” said Mayfield, who has spent the last four years in Cleveland. “Everyone will write whatever history they want. There’s history because I’ve played there for the last four years. I’m an extremely competitive person. Everyone knows that. If I didn’t want to win, then it would be a really big problem that I’m the quarterback here.

“I want to win at everything I do. That will never change. But that’s not how I put it. It’s not even what I said, so let’s leave it at that.”

Mayfield admitted he’s known Frelund, the Bills touchline reporter for that game, for years. He conceded that Frelund was “descriptive” in what she said about his hit against Cleveland.

But he insisted the exchange didn’t happen that way.

“I didn’t even say anything,” Mayfield said. “All I did was, ‘Great, I hope we win.’ Pretty plain and simple I’m competitive I want to win I don’t think it’s something to be harped on.

“That’s the scale. It’s obviously a bigger story because I didn’t give the media what they wanted me to give them this year this off-season.”

Mayfield has chosen his words carefully over the past month and a half since the Panthers acquired him in a trade from Cleveland after the Browns moved forward with Deshaun Watson acquired in a trade from Houston.

Asked last week after being named starter via Sam Darnold how he felt facing his former team in the opener, Mayfield said: “Obviously there’s a lot of attachment there. I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and say it means nothing. It will.”

But Mayfield refused to give too much importance to any of 17 games.

“It’s a great story,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s really because I didn’t expect to leave Cleveland. But after week 1 there are 16 more that are really, really important. That’s how I do it.”

Frelund downplayed the exchange on Twitter on Tuesday, saying it was “playful” and the reaction to Mayfield’s quote “silly”.

Frelund told ESPN.com she “shouldn’t have had a private conversation.” She reiterated that Mayfield was only repeating her words when she told him to “damn” her.

Frelund said she apologized to Mayfield after the social media backlash reached levels she described as an “S—storm.” She said his manager replied.

“You would have preferred it if I hadn’t said it,” Frelund said. “They have worked very hard to be very aware of that. I think it was very clear that my intentions and the actual content of what was said were made clear and taken out of context.”

Before Mayfield’s denials, his comment had already reached the Cleveland dressing room. Brown defensive end Myles Garrett told Cleveland.com, “We’re taking it and we’re going to use it.”

“I don’t think any less of him for going out there and doing the same thing he did when he was with us,” Garrett said. “He’s the same guy personally, and maybe we’ll see a different Baker when we get on the field. Who knows?”

The Browns are aware of Mayfield’s sometimes outlandish comments and antics, such as grabbing his crotch and yelling “F—you” at the Kansas Jayhawks in college because he was upset about being snubbed by a player during the coin toss and later having taken a late headshot during the game.

Mayfield also blasted former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Rex Ryan on social media after Ryan said Mayfield was “fucking overrated.”

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported in March on one reason Cleveland was willing to move away from Mayfield and trade for Watson because it wanted a “grown-up” for the position.

“We know he has that kind of behavior and that attitude, and it works for him for better or for worse,” Garrett said. “And I’m not mad that he’s using that fire and that chip on his shoulder to help him play at the level he’s at. He was successful in what he did.”

Said Mayfield of Garrett’s comment, “This is a person I played with for four years, so he knows how I’m wired, how I compete every day. That is to be expected.”

Mayfield said he had no idea his exchange with Frelund had taken on a life of its own until someone told him and explained that he was currently off social media.

“So it was shocking to me when it was brought to my attention,” he said. “It’s frustrating in the sense that it didn’t happen that way. But at the same time you just have to move forward. People will say what they want.”

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34496357/carolina-panthers-baker-mayfield-clears-air-denies-making-remark-cleveland-browns Carolina Panthers’ Baker Mayfield clears air, denies making remark about Cleveland Browns

Emma Bowman

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