Heisman-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, a projected early first-round pick in April’s NFL draft, takes a timeout for some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: Tell me why Baker Mayfield and New York City would be a perfect marriage.
A: (Laugh) I think I thrive under the spotlight, I live for a big moment. Honestly, it doesn’t get much bigger than being in New York. It’s a big stage, it’s a lot of criticism and a lot of expectations, but I love having high expectations. I’m the type of guy, I rise to the occasion, so setting the bar high for me has always been the fundamental thing, setting my expectations at the highest point and so I think it goes hand-in-hand with being in New York.
Q: Well how does Broadway Baker sound?
A: Broadway Baker (chuckle). I don’t think I’ll ever be on Broadway. But if it means I’m in New York I think I’ll be happy.
Q: How did your meeting with the Jets at the Senior Bowl go?
A: I think it went well. I’m just gonna be myself. What you see is what you get out of me, and I’ve always prided myself on that. I’m not gonna act one way and then you’re gonna hear something else about me. You’re gonna know exactly to expect at all times, so think it went well with the Jets.
Q: Let’s pretend I’m an NFL general manager. Tell me why I should draft you.
A: You should draft me because I’m a winner. I make my teammates play harder. I set the bar high, and I’ll do anything, whatever it takes to win. I care more about this game than most people ever will. When you mix a lot of those things with a winning mentality, it’s a good thing to have as a franchise quarterback.
Q: Are you the best quarterback in this draft?
A: I am. I believe I am. That’s not any disrespect to the other guys. I’ve always had confidence, and I think I’m more than capable of doing everything and more.
Q: What is it about you that makes you the leader you see yourself as?
A: I’m vocal, but I read people very well. Not everybody responds to yelling at ’em or jumping all over ’em. Sometimes you need to put your arm around somebody and encourage them. So for me, I handle everybody differently. I do it all with a purpose.
Q: You’ve said, “I like the pressure.” Why is that?
A: You can’t make diamonds without pressure.
Q: What is the most unfair criticism you’ve heard or bothers you the most?
A: It angers me when people say that height actually matters [Mayfield is 6-foot], because there’s guys in the NFL that prove it day in and day out that it doesn’t. If you can pick up and throw a ball, you can. And if you can win games, you can. So a lot of that stuff that people used to think mattered a lot, those measurable don’t exactly anymore. It’s about winning games and getting your teammates to play hard. People want to put an image on me that they obviously don’t know me. If you never sat down to have a conversation with me, then you probably don’t understand why I’m so competitive, why I do the things I do. I always had a chip on my shoulder because I’ve had to earn everything. If you think me being cocky is because I’ve been handed things that I’ve been spoon fed, you’re absolutely wrong. I’ve had to earn it. And I’m gonna enjoy the success because I’ve had to work for it, and I’m gonna enjoy that with the people around me because we did it together.
Q: You don’t consider yourself cocky or you do?
A: No, I’m confident, I wouldn’t say cocky. I don’t have it all figured out. If I was Tom Brady, then we would maybe have a different conversation, but he doesn’t have that mentality, so that’s what makes him great.
Q: What if the Browns drafted you with the first-overall pick?
A: That’d be unbelievable for me. For me, it’s a challenge that I see, and I’d love to take on that challenge and be the face of a franchise and win them games.
Q: Describe your on-field mentality.
A: Fearless. Fearless and relentless.
Q: Where does that fearlessness come from?
A: It comes from partially a passion for the game. I realize that I’m not gonna get to play this game forever, so when I step onto the field, might as well enjoy every single moment I have.
Q: And the relentlessness?
A: I’ve been blessed along the ways yes, but everything I’ve had, I’ve had to earn it.
Q: How big is that chip on your shoulder?
A: It’s a boulder.
Q: Has it always been there?
A: It has, but it’s grown over time. I learned for me to play at my best, I need to play with an edge.
Q: What drives you?
A: My biggest fear is failure. I want to be the best, so I always have room to improve. I never had that moment where I’m like, “Oh I’ve made it.” I still have a long way to go.
Q: How will you approach the questions about your controversies at the scouting combine — when you were invited despite a February 2017 arrest for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing in Arkansas?
A: I did a lot of it at the Senior Bowl, and I’ve been just honest. I talked about my arrest, and people want to put the “party boy” mentality on me, but that’s not true at all. I was in a bad situation and I shouldn’t have run from the cops. I got scared. I never had a run-in with the law before or after that. I can handle having a lot of responsibility. I had a slipup. It’s not a character flaw though.
Q: Describe Baker Mayfield off the field for me.
A: Fun, outgoing. Somebody that is a caring person, always passionate. I’m not gonna do anything to waste my time. If I’m gonna take my time to do something, it’s because I want to give it 110 percent effort. I’d do anything for my friends, I’m very loyal. I love making people happy.
Q: What are you like in the huddle?
A: I wouldn’t say like controlling or anything like that, but commanding. My presence is felt even if I’m not speaking at the time. I can kind of look somebody in the eyes and they can understand what exactly I want to get out of them.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: I had to overcome a lot of things, but with that, I’ve inspired a lot of people. The stories I hear about kids saying that they’re gonna decide to walk on because of what I’ve done, that means a lot more. It’s much more than just a game, it’s much more than just my story, I can inspire others, and I’m really gonna enjoy that. I’d love to sit down and have conversations with people that are going through times and hear about and maybe give my two cents in and see if it helps.
Q: Describe Mackenzie Asher, the 11-year-old Sooners fan who died from leukemia in December.
A: I talk about the stuff that I’ve gone through, it doesn’t even pale in comparison to what she did. She was 11 years old and battled cancer and had a smile on her face when going to OU games. She found happiness in every little thing when she had every reason not to. And for me, that’s a great mentality to have and try and emulate is what she did. She made others around her happy, and made them smile when they know … everybody knew she was in pain, but she didn’t complain, she didn’t hesitate to try and make the mood lighter. She was way too young, but to think that an 11-year-old could have that type of impact on thousands of people, it’s unbelievable.
Q: Who are athletes in other sports you admire?
A: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter, Michael Young — I was always a Texas Rangers fan, he kind of did it all for them. I loved the [way he] carried himself and left a great legacy for the Rangers.
Q: Why Jeter?
A: The Captain. Just the level of respect that people in all sports have for him, it’s for a certain reason. Never heard a bad thing about him. People being around him, it makes them want to be better just being around his presence because he’s a living legend.
Q: If you engage in shootouts with two quarterbacks in history …
A: Brett Favre, Mike Vick.
Q: Why Vick?
A: He’s a polarizing player to watch. He could change the game with one play.
Q: Favre, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees: Which comparison applies to you?
A: Brees, I would love to have his accuracy and his pocket presence. Russell, the ability to escape and just the leadership stuff in him. With Favre, it’s the winning and then the respect and the leadership from him and the passion for the game.
Q: If you pick the brain of one quarterback not named Favre or Vick …
A: Tom Brady, no doubt.
Q: What would you ask him?
A: I would love to see how he prepares during the week. I’d love to just kind of sit back and watch him first, and then sit down and ask him questions about why. Because I know he does everything with a purpose, so it’d be great to learn from the greatest of all time.
Q: Describe your father, James.
A: My dad’s always been my role model. His work ethic, I’ve always admired that. He’s the one that encouraged me to walk on [at Texas Tech and Oklahoma] when at the time, I was not very (chuckle) happy about thinking about even doing that. I felt disrespected, but he was the one that encouraged me to do that. I obviously wouldn’t be here without him.
Q: Your brother, Matt.
A: He’s the better athlete in the family. He’s so competitive, so whenever we get together it’s always a competition. He’s got that big-brother mentality, he always wants to beat me, so we get pretty fiery at times. So much respect for him. He’s a lot like me, if he’s gonna do something, he’s gonna do it 110 percent or he’s not gonna waste his time.
Q: Your mother, Gina.
A: My mom’s the glue of the family. She keeps all three of us knuckleheads in line. She’s compassionate, she’s sweet. The things that she’s gone through — back in 2015, she was in a terrible car accident. That was a pretty scary, because I wouldn’t know what I’d be doing right now if my mom wasn’t here. And then when she got sick a couple of weeks ago … it’s family first always, and my mom’s the glue to the whole puzzle.
Q: Can you give me a sense how much you hated to lose as a kid?
A: Oh, I can’t stand to lose. Like I said, my biggest fear is failure, and so losing is failing. In anything I do, goodness, I can’t stand losing, whether it’s a crossword puzzle, or Hangman or anything.
Q: Do you have any superstitions?
A: I always wear the same thing on game day. I had a game-day shirt that was one of my best friends’ [Conner Floyd], and I’ve worn it ever since my sophomore year in high school, and I can still count on two hands how many losses I’ve had, so I think it’s doing pretty well.
Q: What kind of a legacy do you want in the NFL?
A: I think a mix of things where people talk about Tom Brady, his work ethic and his winning … Brett Favre, his passion for the game, how much fun he had. I want to be able to have a story that I’ve had success but I’ve inspired a lot of people along the way and has been a good role model for kids growing up and something to look up to.
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