Hey sports fans,

Is everyone up to date with Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield’s press conference on Wednesday, October 30? Is anyone still raking Mayfield over the embers of the fire lit by ESPN Cleveland reporter Tony Grossi ?

In case you have missed the sounds of Mayfield and Grossi’s supporters rattling sabers at the battle lines, here is the abbreviated version of what happened between the quarterback and the beat reporter. You can read the full press conference transcript here.

A video of the interaction shows members of the press asked Mayfield relevant questions for nearly seven minutes, Grossi repeatedly pressed Baker about the waning minutes of the first half during the game against the New England Patriots. Grossi suggested that the Browns’ offense seem to have no sense of urgency. Mayfield answered the question explaining they were in a negative yardage situation. However, Grossi persisted asking why there was so much time between snaps and interrupting Mayfield’s comments. At this point, Grossi pushed further asking if Mayfield was happy with the final drive of the half. Clearly, the quarterback was out of patience, answering that he was not happy because the offense put up no points. Mayfield also called the question “the dumbest question you can ask.” Mayfield then left the press conference.

Given the history between Grossi and Mayfield, there was a good deal more fueling the exchange than the final drive of the first half of the Patriot’s game. Even before the Cleveland Browns’ drafted Mayfield first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Grossi cast disparaging remarks in the young quarterback’s direction. Snubbing Mayfield during a discussion about the top quarterbacks and Tweeting that Mayfield was put on the planet to sucker the Browns.

 

Additionally, Grossi doubled down on comments he made comparing Baker Mayfield to former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. There has been no love lost between the pair since the very beginning.

We still have a lot of football left in the season, this means opportunity for more unpleasant exchanges between Mayfield and Grossi. I have to wonder; can anyone win this battle?

Baker Mayfield, like most NFL quarterbacks, is in the position where the amount of gratitude he receives from most fans and many of the media hinges on what happens on the field. If the Browns were 5-2, Mayfield probably could have poured hot coffee on Grossi, and few people would have batted an eye. Given the present state of Cleveland’s win/loss columns, Baker is now on the receiving end of support and plenty of sharp criticism from Cleveland and the rest of the sports world.

Tony Grossi personifies the long-time curmudgeon beat reporter. In the current era of minuscule news cycles, he needs lots of clicks, or he is pushed aside by someone who can draw the views. One of the fastest ways to gather clicks is by creating a controversy where none exists- ala Mary Kay Cabot/Jarvis Landry. A fine way to manufacture a controversy is to brazenly goad a player, with whom you already have a negative history. Push said player past his tolerance for you and your repetitive insipid question. And then grab your popcorn, sit back, and watch the fallout.

Being dependent on views myself, I’ve been asked if I have sympathy for Grossi. My answer is a resounding ‘no.’ In a world where anyone with a keyboard and a Wi-Fi connection can post what they call news at will, the difference between journalists and hacks comes down to integrity.