Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Takeaways from Baker Mayfield’s youth football camp Saturday at Mayfield High School …
No wonder they renamed the high school in his name.
No, not really.
But the way Baker Mayfield is going about the serious business of being the leader and face of the Browns – as they ascend to heights not seen in 30 or so years – Mayfield is going to lend his name to more than high schools.
He made good on his pre-draft promise to turn the Browns around. He lit up FirstEnergy Stadium like nobody has ever done. He governs the locker room and the practice field with an impeccable work ethic and uncanny likeability. He lifted the Titanic which had become the Browns franchise. He’s raised money for charitable causes.
And at his first youth football camp, he gave about 500 kids a weekend they will never forget. No matter what Mayfield was paid for this camp, he earned every penny.
Mayfield showed up early and stayed late; made contact with every age group; threw passes, caught passes, intercepted passes; chest-bumped and high-fived; answered questions, delivered inspired messages; joined a kid in re-enacting his Madden 2019 intro dance; signed hundreds of autographs; and, in his words, had fun.
He did that for three hours on Saturday, and then repeated it on Sunday.
Meet the press: My favorite portion of the Mayfield camp expertly run by ProCamps was the Q&A with Mayfield, when 6-year-olds and up hit Mayfield with some blunt questions.
From Anthony: How hard is it to be a QB?
Mayfield: It’s pretty hard. To be honest with you, it’s a lot of work. You’ve got to focus on doing your job. But I think the best thing about being a quarterback is being able to influence your teammates and being around a lot of people. It’s a lot of fun though.
From Miko: What’s your favorite target?
Mayfield: An open receiver. I don’t think I’ve ever had that one before.
From Connor: How long have you liked football?
Mayfield: Ooooh, great question. I’ve always loved football since I was very little. I didn’t start playing organized football until going into sixth grade. But I always played at recess and played with my friends.
From Joshua: Do you ever feel embarrassed when you get sacked?
Mayfield: Joshua, you came with the hardest question of the day. Yes, I do. It’s not a great feeling when somebody, you know, pushes you into the ground. But you have to get back up.
From Chase: Did you want to go to the Browns when you got drafted?
Mayfield: Of course I did. Of course.
From Alan: What was your dream when you were little?
Mayfield: My dream was to play professional football when I was little. I set my sights on it, dreamed big and I worked for it. It’s a dream come true, for real.
Back to business: As his second professional season draws closer, Mayfield is ensconced as the leader, face and heartbeat of the Browns. Like he said he would, he has taken on this massive responsibility with enthusiasm and has changed the culture of the Browns.
Will borderline unrealistic expectations crush the Browns? Mayfield is the No. 1 reason that won’t happen.
I asked him about the responsibilities of this job versus the responsibilities he felt at Oklahoma, where he was The Man.
“It’s definitely a step up, but there’s a lot of similarities,” Mayfield answered. “As big a business as the NFL is, it’s a much bigger deal to be that guy every single day. I’m around a lot more people within our building, whereas in college you see your teammates and you’re kind of in the locker and out at class or different stuff like that.
“But now, it’s a business. We’re all working towards the same goal and winning and improving each day. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of responsibility, but a lot of fun.”
This week beginning on Tuesday, Mayfield presides over another camp, coach Freddie Kitchens’ mandatory minicamp. It will be Mayfield’s first time on the field for more than one day with receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who posted on his Instagram account that he will attend, as expected.
“I am [looking forward to it],” Mayfield said. “You know, just to have everybody together. You don’t get too many times that it’s not during the season and everybody’s got their own routines. It’ll be enjoyable next week.
“As we continue our offseason training and it’s coming to an end, it’s getting exciting. That’s why we have the energy of these kids out here. People are itching to get back to football.”
And itching to see how far Mayfield will take the Browns in his second season.