I remember the night of the 2016 Presidential election, as will many readers of this article. Due to the general nature of the political climate in the country, I and just about everyone I knew expected Hillary Clinton to win. While I personally didn’t vote for her or for President Trump, that’s just how I expected it to go. She had the political experience, could put on a presidential face, and her beliefs and policies coincided with the cries of social media mobs and outspoken and impassioned Millennials everywhere. As I saw the percentage of polls reporting grow and the gap between Trump and Clinton widen, all I could do was laugh; I simply couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t even slightly content, I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do with my face.
When the Cleveland Browns chose Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick last night, the same eerie delirium overcame me. After dozens of quarterbacks (including one Manziel) and just four wins over the last three seasons, They simply haven’t learned their lesson.
Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, let’s lay out the basics of the landscape for the Browns: Tyrod Taylor is the starter and supposed veteran mentor to Mayfield. Taylor is the quiet, unassuming 28-year-old with tremendous athleticism but not the tremendous winning record Cleveland may have wanted. Mayfield is the small, athletic rookie with an arrest for public intoxication and a laundry list of cringe-worthy moments under his belt. He’s confident, bordering on cocky, and is far too much of a reminder of Johnny Manziel, another small, athletic quarterback who made us all cringe.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely potential for greatness here. Taylor leads by quiet example, and Mayfield could use some humbling as he gets his feet wet in the NFL. But Tyrod Taylor mentoring Baker Mayfield under Hue Jackson just doesn’t sound like a winning combination.
The biggest problem is that Cleveland has seen this movie before. We’ve mentioned Manziel, but he’s just one of a list of small and eventually unimpressive quarterbacks they’ve chosen. The fact that Mayfield was taken first overall is like watching them bullet a one-inch putt into the gator’s mouth in the water hazard. Sure, someone probably thinks they know something nobody else does or that they belong in those stupid clickbait ads about a small company disrupting a billion-dollar industry, but they don’t. General Manager John Dorsey has compared Mayfield to Brett Favre, but he’s done so in fallacy.
Mostly, I just feel for the fanbase. As a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan, I adore and long for the years of Ken Griffey Jr., when the postseason wasn’t a distant dream and I had high hopes watching the team play. Browns fans, loyal as they are, deserve far better than Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield. Dorsey has sent the fans the Boy Scouts when they need Green Berets. And the Boy Scouts are the absolute worst.
When Trump was elected, I allowed myself to feel optimistic. I wanted to have my fears and suspicions proven wrong. I’ll let that be the case here. Prove me wrong, Cleveland; make something great out of this. Show me and everyone else that you didn’t just trust your lottery winnings to Bernie Madoff.