Panthers QB Baker Mayfield responds to NFL reporter’s interview
Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield said Wednesday he really wants to beat his former team, the Cleveland Browns, when the teams meet on opening day, but said a conversation with an NFL Network reporter had been excessive.
“Everyone is going to write whatever story they want, there’s the story I’ve played there for the last four years,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “I am an extremely competitive person, everyone knows that. If I didn’t want to win it would be a really big deal, me being the quarterback here. I want to win in everything I do. This will never change.
But the quarterback, who the Panthers acquired via trade from Brown this summer, told Buffalo Bills sideline reporter Cynthia Frelund that “I’m going to [expletive] mount them”?
“That’s not how I phrased it, that’s not even what I said,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Pushed further on what he said, Mayfield continued:
“I spoke to him,” he said. “She addressed it, she said it, obviously you can go back and see what she said. Everything I did was okay, hopefully we win. Fairly plain and simple. I’m competitive, I want to win and I don’t think you have to stress that.
Wednesday afternoon’s post-workout session was Mayfield’s first opportunity to respond to the report, which caused a stir on social media on Tuesday. Mayfield said he was surprised when his alleged comments surfaced early Tuesday morning.
“I’m off social media right now. So when this was brought to my attention, it shocked me a bit.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he didn’t pay attention to what Frelund said.
“The journalist who spoke about it, I think, addressed the situation. I don’t really pay attention to it,” Rhule said. I was not distracted by it. I’m not really on the internet or social media. So I didn’t know until someone told me about it late yesterday.
The Browns players heard what their former quarterback allegedly said. On Tuesday, All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett told cleveland.com the team will use him as motivation.
“Talking like that and moving like he does, it worked for him. He uses it for fire, for motivation and I think talking like that helps him get stronger,” Garrett said. “It does the same for us too. We’ll take it and we’ll use it, and I hope for a great game.
Garrett added that he wasn’t mad at Mayfield. Instead, he acknowledged that Mayfield behaved similarly in Cleveland.
Mayfield said he expects Garrett and the Browns to be motivated to play against him and the Panthers as well.
“He’s a person I’ve played with for years,” Mayfield said. “So he knows how I’m wired, how I compete every day and everything I do, so that’s to be expected.”
With more than a week until the Panthers’ season opener, Mayfield said he understands why facing his former team is a story, as he was not due to be traded at the end of the 2021 season.
“It’s obviously a bigger story because I didn’t give the media what they wanted me to give them this year and this offseason,” he said. “So that’s what they think I said and it’s not, so take it and run with it, but I know what I’ve done. And our team knows what I’ve done. I said. Then everything is fine.
Contacted for comment on Tuesday afternoon by The Observer, Frelund said her intentions were positive.
“I was like, ‘Go be comeback player of the year.’ I was cheering on someone who I believe had a tough offseason. I was happy for him,” Frelund told The Observer. “It wasn’t like he approached me from an angry tone. Nothing was like that. It was all rooted in positivity, moving forward and being in the right place.
Frelund then said she shouldn’t have shared their private conversation without permission from the Panthers or Mayfield.
“I shouldn’t have mentioned our private conversation. I showed poor judgment in that I should have asked him first and/or worked it out with him before saying it,” Frelund said. “But I was really standing up for someone I believe in and want to see good things for.”
Mayfield was recently named the Panthers’ starting quarterback after the team acquired him from the Browns in early July for a conditional fifth-round pick. Mayfield agreed to take a $3.5 million cut from his $18.9 million base salary to join Carolina. The Browns are paying $10.5 million off his contract while the Panthers took around $5 million.
Since arriving in Charlotte, Mayfield has quickly established himself as QB1. Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he was impressed with how quickly Mayfield took over Ben McAdoo’s attack.
The team embraces his leadership. On Monday, center Bradley Bozeman said Mayfield was “a guy you want to play for.”
In his final public comments on August 22, Mayfield acknowledged that the game against the Browns on September 11 would be more than a “fair game”.
“I’m not going to sit here and be a robot and say that means nothing,” Mayfield said at the time. “It will be.”
This story was originally published August 31, 2022 4:55 p.m.