With LeBron James off in Los Angeles, where he’s trying to mold a cast of cartoon characters on a new team and starring in Space Jam 2, the city of Cleveland was looking for a new unofficial mayor.
Sure, Corey Kluber and Francisco Lindor are leading the Cleveland Indians back to the Major League Baseball playoffs, but we’re a long way away from the loveable losers depicted in the movie Major League. The Indians are expected to win now.
But there is no bigger salve to heal Cleveland sports fans’ loss of King James than for the fans in the Dawg Pound to once again cheer for a winner. It’s been a revolving door of incompetent quarterbacks since the Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999, but in essentially one half of a football game, former University of Oklahoma Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield has breathed new life into the city — and perhaps most importantly, he gave the city free beer.
The Browns were a combined 1-31 in the previous two seasons before drafting Mayfield with the first overall pick in April’s NFL Draft and began this season with a tie and a loss under starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, extending its streak without a win to 635 days.
Taylor was knocked out of last Thursday’s game with a concussion, and Mayfield made his NFL debut on the final drive of the first half trailing the New York Jets 14-0, who are quarterbacked by fellow rookie Sam Darnold — the player many draft experts expected the Browns to draft over Mayfield — and immediately showed the same panache and on-field skills that made him a hero in Norman.
Mayfield completed 17 of 23 passes with three receiver drops for 201 yards in about one half of play and caught a two-point conversion for good measure as the Browns erased the halftime defect and won 21-17.
Anheuser-Busch placed locked coolers of Bud Light all over Cleveland, awaiting a Browns victory, and it set off celebrations across the city like they had won the Super Bowl rather than a regular season game, but good for you, Cleveland — Chicken-Fried News is cheering for you.
Mayfield’s college coach Lincoln Riley chimed in with a tweet to Mayfield following the win: “Hey bud—bet they forgive you for planning the flag now—congrats,” in reference to the faux controversy following OU’s win at Ohio State in 2017.
Mayfield planted his own flag in Cleveland last week, a conquering hero.