SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Baker Mayfield’s determination to avoid being what the Browns captain calls “a cookie-cutter quarterback” bothers some people.
And San Francisco 49ers and former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is among them.
In an interview with NFL Network’s Michael Silver, Sherman accused Mayfield of refusing to shake hands before the Browns’ humiliating 31-3 loss to the 49ers on “Monday Night Football” and ripped the QB for his behavior.
But in a strange twist Tuesday afternoon, Sherman walked his comments back after ESPN shared a video on social media showing Mayfield quickly shaking hands with Sherman before the coin toss Monday night.
Sherman took a modified stance when he told MMQB.com‘s Albert Breer it was Mayfield darting away after the coin toss that angered the Niners.
“That’s it. They are making way too big of a story of a blowout,” Sherman told Breer. “He pissed us off. We put a foot in his ass. End of story.”
Sherman also took to Twitter in an attempt to explain his position.
“So you don’t see any difference in the way I shake everyone else’s hand and the guy who stands back with the petty shake,” he tweeted in response to the ESPN footage. “Was Bs and I took offense to it then turns and runs off. It’s not that big of a deal.”
But Sherman’s initial quotes relayed by Silver were presented as a big deal on the NFL’s official website.
“What’s amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning,” Sherman said, according to Silver. “That’s some college s—. It’s ridiculous. We’re all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent — that’s NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that’s disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that’s gonna get us fired up.”
Discussing Mayfield, Niners defensive lineman DeForest Buckner told Silver a handshake snub “can rub a lot of people the wrong way.” Niners tight end George Kittle told Silver he received a quick hand slap from Mayfield before the opening kickoff at Levi’s Stadium. The ESPN video actually shows Mayfield and Kittle briefly hugging after shaking hands.
“Respect the game,” Sherman told Silver. “You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment — especially when you’re young.
“He hasn’t earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He’s acting like he was the MVP last year. If (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick) Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.
“And when you see a guy who doesn’t? You humble him every chance you get. Because eventually, he will have respect for the league — or he’ll be out of it.”
Sherman opined Mayfield has been out of line in the past, citing the headlines the QB generated by taking shots at former Browns coach Hue Jackson, former Cleveland running back Duke Johnson and New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
“There’s no reason for him to say and do those things, especially given how little he’s accomplished,” Sherman told Silver. “That’s where he’s gonna have to grow up. He might get there, but he has a long way to go.”
Sherman taught Mayfield a lesson on the field, intercepting a pass and returning it 13 yards to the Browns 41-yard line with 13:02 left in the first quarter. It was the first of Mayfield’s three turnovers against the Niners (4-0). He had two picks and a fumble on rookie defensive end Nick Bosa’s strip-sack. Bosa pressured Mayfield as he threw toward receiver Antonio Callaway, only to be intercepted by Sherman, a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
“He was getting sacked, and he should have just eaten the ball,” Sherman said, per Silver. “He’s throwing as he’s falling, and I’ve already broken on the ball, so there’s no reason to chuck it. That’s youth. You’ve got to eat that play and get to the next one. And he’s throwing it to Callaway — it’s one thing if he puts it up for Odell (Beckham Jr.) or (Jarvis Landry) because those guys are so good they might be able to make a play. But no, he shouldn’t have thrown it.”
Mayfield finished 8-of-22 passing for 100 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions, four sacks and a rating of 13.4. And the Browns fell to 2-3.
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