Quarterback Baker Mayfield has kept a list before.
On it, he included those who had slighted him or doubted him. Starting out as an undersized walk-on at Texas Tech, Mayfield has always used slights and doubts as fuel, providing him with the edge that propelled him all the way to the NFL, as the No. 1 overall draft selection of the Cleveland Browns last year. Intensely loyal but also doggedly unforgiving, Mayfield doesn’t bury the hatchet easily, either, but Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, his former adversary from Texas Tech, whom Mayfield faces off against Sunday, is one notable exception.
Yet as the ice thawed with Kingsbury over the years, thanks to former Oklahoma teammate Kyler Murray becoming Kingsbury’s quarterback with the Cardinals, Mayfield has continued to operate in the fray, never shy about fiercely firing back at critics, unabashedly expressing his opinion or vociferously defending teammates under attack.
In turn, that has made him a target, with his brashness drawing the ire of others. All of which has led to plenty of beefs. These are the stories behind some of Baker’s most memorable ones, beginning with the beef that jump-started his Heisman career at Oklahoma, which comes full circle Sunday in Arizona:
Baker vs. Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury
Who started it: In 2013, Mayfield became the first quarterback to start for a Power 5 program as a walk-on true freshman, and he led Texas Tech to a 5-0 start before suffering a knee injury. Yet when Mayfield returned from the injury later that year, Kingsbury didn’t automatically hand Mayfield back the starting job.
Mayfield did start the regular-season finale against Texas before Kingsbury reopened the competition again prior to the Holiday Bowl against Arizona State. Aggravated, Mayfield also claimed that Texas Tech told him it wasn’t going to award him a scholarship the following semester, a claim Kingsbury and Texas Tech officials have disputed. Either way, before the bowl game, Mayfield told Kingsbury he was leaving.
What happened: Mayfield left for Oklahoma, won the job again as a walk-on, then led the Sooners to two playoff appearances, including three wins over the Red Raiders. In his lone appearance on the field in Lubbock, Texas, Mayfield propelled OU to a 66-59 win over Patrick Mahomes in a shootout classic. During the game, Texas Tech fans wore T-shirts with the word “traitor” on them. The following year before playing the Red Raiders, Mayfield showed up to Oklahoma’s stadium wearing the same “traitor” shirt. While Mayfield will remain a villain at Texas Tech, his feud with Kingsbury seems to be water under the bridge, with Kingsbury mentoring Murray, Mayfield’s former backup at Oklahoma. Mayfield and Kingsbury hung out at the Kentucky Derby this past year and even posed for a group photo together along with Tom Brady. There, Mayfield said he told Kingsbury to take care of Murray for him.
What you probably don’t know: Traveling on his own to the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game in 2014 while sitting out his transfer year with the Sooners, Mayfield was actually kicked out of a Lubbock restaurant. “[They] told me I just needed to leave,” Mayfield recounted in 2015. “I said, ‘Listen, I obviously don’t need any more problems in this city. I already have enough. I’m not very well-liked here.'” Mayfield noted he was booed as he left. “I kind of just took my loss and walked out. … I didn’t need any extra problems.”
Baker vs. TCU and Gary Patterson
Who started it: Out of Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas, Mayfield believed a scholarship was coming from TCU, where former high school teammate and close friend Griffin Gilbert (Browns quarterback Garrett Gilbert‘s younger brother) was playing fullback. Instead, the Horned Frogs offered their quarterback scholarship to Zach Allen from Temple, Texas, just a few miles from Austin. Mayfield wound up walking on to Texas Tech, while Allen threw two passes for TCU before moving to tight end and eventually transferring to Rutgers.
What happened: Mayfield and Patterson, TCU’s head coach, squabbled for the next several years. In 2014, Patterson on TV accused Mayfield of stealing TCU’s signs (TCU’s first-year co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie had come from Texas Tech). In 2015, days before his Sooners were set to meet Clemson in the College Football Playoff, Mayfield called out Patterson. “They told me they were gonna offer me a scholarship and kind of drug it out, and I told other schools I wasn’t interested because I thought I was going to go there, and I truly believed they were going to offer me because they told me that,” he said. “They disappointed me and kind of hung me out to dry right before signing day. … [Patterson] doesn’t like me, and I have no comment about that.”
What you probably don’t know: In 2017, Mayfield and Patterson came to odds again after Mayfield pegged a TCU player with a football during pregame warm-ups. Leading into their Big 12 championship rematch, Patterson ranted about Mayfield’s antics again. After the title game, though, the defensive-minded Patterson praised Mayfield and said he played quarterback like a defensive player.
Baker vs. Ohio State and Nick Bosa
Who started it: Mayfield delivered an exclamation point on the Sooners’ 31-16 victory at No. 2 Ohio State in 2017 by planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield inside the Block O at Ohio Stadium.
What happened: The flag plant created a stir in the college football world, leading Mayfield to offer a half-hearted apology two days later. Mayfield, however, later said in a 2019 interview with GQ Magazine that he didn’t mean it and that he was “almost embarrassed” for the OU administrators who told him to apologize.
49ers defensive end Bosa, who was with the Buckeyes in that game, never forgot about the flag plant. And after dropping Mayfield to force an intentional grounding penalty on Monday Night Football on Oct. 7, Bosa mimicked Mayfield’s flag plant. “I think everybody knows what that was for,” Bosa said afterward. “I just wanted to get payback. He had it coming.” Mayfield jabbed back later in the week, saying, “That’s a long time to be thinking about that loss.”
What you probably don’t know: After running Mayfield and the Sooners out of their own stadium the year before, Ohio State players held up signs with the words “Basic Defense” while celebrating on the field. Earlier in the week, on an OU-run TV program, backup quarterback Austin Kendall had called the Buckeyes’ defense “basic.” Mayfield admitted that motivated him to plant the flag. Earlier this month, Baltimore’s Mark Andrews, Mayfield’s tight end at OU, avenged his former quarterback by mock-planting the flag after scoring a touchdown against the 49ers.
Baker vs. Kansas
Who started it: During the midfield coin toss before the game, Mayfield attempted to shake hands with Kansas captain linebacker Joe Dineen. Instead, Dineen snubbed Mayfield, who scoffed and began clapping his hands as he walked back.
What happened: Tensions escalated. Mayfield kept chirping across the field to the Jayhawks’ sideline, and also to the Kansas fans behind the OU bench — “Go cheer on basketball,” he told them. Mayfield then grew incensed after taking a late hit to the head. Shortly after tossing a touchdown to put the game away in the second half, Mayfield stared down the Kansas sideline again, grabbed his crotch and yelled, “F— you!” several times. Immediately afterward, Mayfield apologized, calling his behavior “unacceptable” and “disrespectful.”
What you probably don’t know: Mayfield was suspended for one series the following weekend on senior day, which cleared the way for Murray to make his first career start at OU. Murray rushed for 66 yards on his first snap, providing a glimpse of his own Heisman-winning season that was to come in 2018.
Baker vs. Texas, Westlake and Sam Ehlinger
Who started it: When Mayfield’s former teammate and current starting Baltimore Ravens tackle Orlando Brown Jr. struggled during one of the worst performances ever at the NFL combine in 2018, Texas quarterback Ehlinger made fun of him on Twitter. At his pro day a few weeks later, Mayfield quipped back, saying of Ehlinger, “He’s never beat Lake Travis, and he also hasn’t beat OU, so leave it at that.” Ehlinger went to Westlake (Austin) High School, the primary rival of Lake Travis, the high school Mayfield attended.
What happened: The following summer in an interview with a Norman, Oklahoma, radio station, Mayfield ripped Ehlinger for suggesting after a Sugar Bowl win that Texas was back. “They said the same thing when they beat Notre Dame a couple of years ago, and they won like three games after that. I’m sick of that crap,” said Mayfield before moving on to Ehlinger. “He couldn’t beat Lake Travis, so I don’t really care [about] his opinion on winning. … He doesn’t like me, and I hope he knows I don’t like him either.”
What you probably don’t know: Murray has clashed with Ehlinger as well. After Texas won the 2018 Red River Showdown, Ehlinger says he told Murray “good game,” which led to a heated exchange. The week of the rematch in the 2018 Big 12 championship game, Murray was asked whether he respected Ehlinger’s game. Murray chuckled and offered a “no comment on that,” then led the Sooners to victory.
Baker vs. Hue Jackson
Who started it: Two weeks after the Browns fired him at midseason last year, Jackson joined the rival Bengals as an assistant under Marvin Lewis, whom he’d previously served under as an offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. The news irked those in Cleveland, including Mayfield, with Jackson possessing intimate knowledge of the Browns.
What happened: When the Browns beat the Bengals in November behind Mayfield’s four touchdown passes, cameras revealed an awkward exchange between Mayfield and Jackson, with Mayfield seemingly avoiding a postgame hug. The following day on ESPN’s First Take, Damien Woody ripped Mayfield for being a hypocrite, citing Mayfield’s transfer from Texas Tech to OU. Mayfield responded over Instagram, writing back, “Not even comparable. ….I didn’t lose 30+ games be fake and then do that …I wasn’t going to have a scholarship. Good try though buddy.” During the Browns’ defeat of Cincinnati again in December, Mayfield upped the ante and stared down Jackson after a big play.
What you probably don’t know: Jackson isn’t coaching. But he is available to send personalized messages via the website Cameo for a fee of $50. Jackson has an almost perfect 4.8-star rating in his reviews.
Who started it: Johnson reiterated during minicamp in June he wanted to be traded in the wake of Cleveland’s decision to sign running back Kareem Hunt. Moments later, Mayfield was asked if Johnson’s trade request would create any awkwardness in the locker room. “It’s not awkward, it’s self-inflicted. It’s not awkward for anyone else in this building,” Mayfield said. “He’s got to do his job. He said he’s a professional. I hope he does his job. … I get it, Duke has been here for years, and I respect that. But it’s about what you’re doing right now and what we’re going to do. The past is the past. … You’re either on this train or you’re not.”
What happened: Rapper Luther Campbell, married to Johnson’s agent, Kristin Campbell, at the time, ripped Mayfield over social media, tweeting, “F— Baker Mayfield for saying that dumb s— about Duke Johnson. I guarantee you be the one to divide this locker room up. You are not in Texas at Cracker Barrel.” Johnson did report for training camp, leading Mayfield to say that “we’re good.” But Johnson practiced twice before suffering a hamstring injury. With Johnson switching agents to Drew Rosenhaus, a trade seemed imminent and came to fruition Aug. 8, when he was dealt to the Houston Texans for a 2020 third-round pick.
Baker vs. Rex Ryan
Who started it: After the Browns lost to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3 to fall to 1-2, Ryan called Mayfield “overrated as hell” the following morning on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
What happened: Mayfield responded to Ryan’s jab with one of his own. “In the wise words of Freddie Kitchens, if you don’t wear orange and brown, you don’t matter, and Rex Ryan doesn’t have any colors right now for a reason,” Mayfield said, referencing Ryan being fired from head coaching jobs by the New York Jets in 2014 and Buffalo Bills in 2016.
Who started it: After the 49ers throttled Cleveland 31-3 earlier this season, Sherman told NFL Network’s Michael Silver that Mayfield refused to shake hands during the midfield coin toss. “That’s some college s—. It’s ridiculous,” Sherman told Silver. “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.”
What happened: It turned out, Sherman made up the whole incident. Video evidence obtained by ESPN the next day showed Mayfield shaking hands with Sherman before the coin toss. Sherman wound up apologizing on the “Pat McAfee Show,” saying of Mayfield, “He definitely deserves an apology, and that’s my bad on that.”