Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Thoughts on Odell and Baker

He hasn't played a game for the Browns and yet he keeps finding his way into the headlines.

Browns fans saw how uncomfortable Odell Beckham Jr. looked at the news conference that heralded his arrival shortly after the stunning March 12 trade that uprooted him from New York and dropped him in Cleveland. He spoke cautiously to the Cleveland area media, no doubt making certain he did not say the wrong thing.

My how times have changed.

Here we are nearly two months later and the outgoing wide receiver has revealed how perceptively he is able to envision the future of his professional life and share it with a national magazine.

No longer does he feel like a stranger in the town that embraced him immediately upon news of the deal. In fact, he feels downright giddy about the direction his new team is headed.

He has totally fallen in love with Baker Mayfield, his new quarterback. “I would say he’s next, but I feel he’s now,” Beckham told Gentleman’s Quarterly recently in a piece that highlighted his appearance the fashionable Met Gala. “He’s Brett Favre. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer.”

Extraordinary praise, indeed, for someone who has played in only 14 National Football League games. But wait, there’s more hyperbole, this time with regard to the Super Bowl.

“I plan on being there (Cleveland) for the next five years and trying to bring as many championships there as possible’,” he said, “turning (the Browns) into the new (New England) Patriots.”

As if rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens didn’t have enough problems dealing with rookie cornerback Greedy Williams and his bold prediction of at least getting to the next Super Bowl, if not winning it.

Now along comes a five-year veteran who should know better with his out-there boast about what the immediate future holds. But it sure jazzed up Browns Nation, that global group of fans who would be thrilled first to see the Browns in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

If nothing else, this kind of bravado ramps up the pressure for a team most pro football observers have labeled the most interesting team for 2019.

It’s one thing to be excited about your new team. It’s quite another to share that excitement absurdly even though that team has not played one minute of football. That might prove difficult for Beckham. Humility is not his strongest trait.
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Speaking of Mayfield, his feud with national radio talk show host Colin Cowherd smacks of staged entertainment.

It all stems from Cowherd’s recent remarks about Mayfield and the upcoming season, an attempt to cool off the notion that the Browns have become an NFL darling. He touches a few nerves along the way.

“(General Manager) John Dorsey got fired by Kansas City,” he began his diatribe. “Baker Mayfield is a walk-on twice and Cleveland has been the laughingstock of the league. They’re three peas in a pod. They work together.” Nothing wrong there. It’s all true.

“I do think they are a nine-win team,” Cowherd added. “I do think they flirt with the playoffs. I think their schedule early is brutal, filled with unbelievably tough road games.”

And then he dropped a personal hammer. ”I also think Freddie Kitchens will get fired within two years and Baker will be on his third coach in four years because I don’t think Freddie can handle this group of dudes.”

Mayfield tweetly called Cowherd a “donkey.” To which Cowherd tweetly responded,” I wish you would LISTEN before ruining my weekend. I worked very hard on this. Sad. Still hope we’re friends despite out differences.”

Yeah, right. Cowherd is nothing more than a thin-skinned bloviator and bleeds when attacked. Believe that one and you should think about turning in your loyal sports talk show listener card.

It’s not just Cleveland and the Browns that Cowherd picks on. He is an equal opportunity annoyer throughout the sports world. That’s his job. It’s what generates calls, e-mails, tweets and more radio affiliates. And, most important: advertisers. He's good at it.

Mayfield in the past has acknowledged as much. That’s why I suspect he and Cowherd will milk this feud for all it’s worth because it keeps the Browns in the spotlight. Again, nothing wrong with that. Just don’t take it too seriously.