For Baker Mayfield, the electrifying, fiery, and sometimes frustrating quarterback, 2023 marks the start of another fresh start. Taking over the role of starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it marks his fourth team in six seasons.
From his start as a walk-on at Texas Tech, his Heisman-winning campaign at the University of Oklahoma, to being drafted first overall in 2017, Baker Mayfield has left an indelible mark on football. While the jury may still be out on whether he will ever reach the status of a truly elite quarterback, he's certainly a lightning rod for debate among fans.
In this article, we'll take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of his career's best, most thrilling moments—both in college and the NFL.
Before becoming NFL stars, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes met on the field in 2016, where they were part of what some have called the greatest offensive performance in college football history.
Prior to winning the starting job at Oklahoma, Baker was Texas Tech's quarterback. After an acrimonious split due to controversy over competition for the position, he left to walk on in Norman.
With Mahomes as the new Texas Tech signal caller, the two teams clashed for a final score of 66-59 for Oklahoma. The 1708-yard total set a new NCAA Division I record, and Mahomes' 819 total yards set an FBS record. Mayfield wasn't too shabby either, with 545 yards and seven touchdowns.
Although he downplayed the significance of the victory, saying, "winning against Oklahoma State is expected," Baker Mayfield's performance in the 2017 Bedlam Series game was one for the ages.
Throwing for 598 yards and six touchdowns, he set a school record with his performance in the 62-52 victory and establishing himself as a beloved member of Sooner Nation.
Although Baker's numbers in the 2018 Rose Bowl aren't as eye-popping as some of his other performances, his gritty showcase in a narrow double-overtime loss against the Georgia Bulldogs demonstrated his ability to perform at a truly elite level on the biggest college football stage.
Baker threw for 287 yards, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for another touchdown, displaying his dynamic athleticism and high-powered arm talent.
After a thrilling win against Ohio State in Columbus in September 2017, Baker Mayfield delivered one of the most memorable non-playing moments of his college career.
Planting the Sooners' flag in the middle of the painted "O" on the field at Ohio Stadium, he received significant public backlash and ultimately gave a public apology for his actions.
While it was a controversial move, it showed Sooners his unwavering confidence and competitive fire—and became an iconic image in the process.
After leading the Sooners to an 11-2 record in 2017, Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy, the award given to the most outstanding player in college football. With 86% of the vote, it was not only the third-highest voting percentage in Heisman history but also made him the first walk-on player to win the award.
A testament to his ability to overcome adversity, it wasn't even his first time nearing Heisman glory. In 2016, he was also a Heisman finalist and ended up placing third in voting.
Part of Baker Mayfield's legacy as a college football player came in the form of a significant rule change to NCAA player eligibility. Transferring from Texas Tech to Oklahoma, he was forced to sit out the 2014 football season and lose one year of playing eligibility.
Baker appealed the decision preventing him from playing and ultimately lost the appeal. However, Big 12 Conference faculty athletic officials later voted in favor of a rule change that made him eligible to play through the 2017 season.
The change of rules is seen as an improvement for walk-on players, as it allows them to transfer to schools within the conference without eligibility penalty, given they don't have a written scholarship offer.
Baker entered the 2017 NFL draft with high expectations placed upon him, being selected by the Cleveland Browns with the first overall pick. As a franchise suffering a long history of recent failures, his selection was seen by many as a hopeful turning point for the Browns, who desperately sought stability at the quarterback position.
While his career in Cleveland didn't last long, Mayfield provided some moments of success not seen by the Browns in far too long.
After an injury to Browns starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in week 3 of the 2018 season, Baker got off to a hot start to his NFL career. His 27 touchdown passes on the year surpassed Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson for the most touchdowns thrown by a rookie.
Although the Browns finished the season outside of the playoffs, their 7-8-1 record was the team's best record since 2007 and ultimately signaled a glimpse of hope for the struggling franchise.
Mayfield's debut on Thursday Night Football proved to be a sensational one, as he led the Browns to a 21-19 victory over the New York Jets. Going 17-for-23 and throwing for 201 yards, the game marked the Browns' first win in 635 days—ending a 19-game losing streak.
Baker was the first player since Fran Tarkenton in 1961 to come off the bench, throw for more than 200 yards, and lead their team to their first win of the season.
After a short stint in Carolina, Mayfield signed for the Los Angeles Rams. He had two days to learn his new team's playbook before being thrust into action against the Las Vegas Raiders in December 2022.
Down 16-3 in the fourth quarter and appearing to be headed for their seventh straight loss, Baker led the Rams on a spectacular comeback, culminating in a 98-yard game-winning touchdown drive with under two minutes left and no timeouts remaining.
Although some may have said leading the Browns to the playoffs in the 2020-2021 season was accomplishment enough, Baker wasn't ready to stop there.
Throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he gave Cleveland its first playoff victory since 1994. The 48-37 result was also the Browns' first road playoff win in 51 years. The game was a defining statement not only in Baker Mayfield's young career but also for the Browns and Cleveland sports history.
We can't talk about big moments from Baker's career without mentioning his extensive acting history. That's right—he's been in a lot of television commercials.
From looking around the stadium to find the source of a smoke alarm beep to getting his wife a lemonade while watching TV on the stadium jumbotron, he's been in heavy rotation on audiences' televisions with his series of Progressive commercial features.
Whether you find them corny or endearing, you've got to admit he's got a knack for being in front of the camera!
While he still hasn't managed to hoist the big trophy in the NFL, Baker's career has provided fans with a host of unforgettable moments—plus some much-needed time out of the losing column for Browns fans.
It remains to be seen whether Tampa Bay will be the stop where he finally takes his game to the next level, but we'll be rooting for him regardless. After all, anyone who can throw a pass traveling 66.4 air yards (the most recorded by Next Gen Stats since 2016, which he did in 2021 with a Hail Mary against the Arizona Cardinals) deserves notice.
If you're a diehard Baker Mayfield fan, then you may be hoping he sticks around with the Buccaneers so you don't have to buy yet another team jersey.
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