Move over Zapruder Film, the next great video investigation is here.
The scene: Levi's Stadium. The accused: Cleveland Browns star quarterback Baker Mayfield. The accuser: 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
Let's dive in.
After the 49ers thoroughly outclassed the Browns 31-3 on "Monday Night Football," Sherman took a shot at Mayfield, claiming the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner refused to shake his hand before kickoff at midfield. Initially, Sherman's claim was taken at face value. After all, Mayfield famously grabbed his crotch after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks while at Oklahoma and planted a Sooners flag on the Ohio State turf after taking down the Buckeyes.
These antics aren't out of the realm of possibility for the brazen young star.
However, a video has emerged of the pregame handshake with the captains, and it might not back up Sherman's version of the events. But does it dispute it?
The 49ers put this video on Instagram prior to kickoff.
Tough to tell anything about the interaction between Baker Mayfield and Richard Sherman from this angle, but he obviously shakes hands with (and hugs) some of the other 49ers players pic.twitter.com/DXmcjRBtdc— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) October 8, 2019
So, let's look at this.
Mayfield shakes the hands of both tight end George Kittle and defensive end DeForest Buckner. When Sherman and Mayfield cross paths, the line of sight is blocked, but it appears there was at the very least an interaction.
But there's a different angle which shows Mayfield does indeed shake Sherman's hand.
So, where's the beef? Well, it comes in a little later.
Now, no internet-video investigation would be complete without the grainy footage from another angle, and you bet we have it.
More Zapruder film from Handshakegate courtesy of ESPN. Baker Mayfield and Richard Sherman do a quick handshake before the coin toss, then Baker runs off after the coin toss and you can see Sherman wave bye to him. 🤝 pic.twitter.com/UQPPdGYYBT— Clayton Holloway (@HollowClay) October 8, 2019
This footage shows Mayfield and Sherman briefly shake hands before the coin toss, but then Mayfield runs off after the toss and doesn't shake hands again, leading to Sherman's reaction.
Handshake or not, Sherman and the 49ers embarrassed Mayfield and the Browns from the opening kick to improve to 4-0.
The young quarterback's persona makes him a target of fans, pundits and opposing players alike. He's been big and brash and his opponents want nothing more than to rub his face in it when they beat him. Sherman has faced similar criticisms of his personality in the past, often carrying himself with the same confidence that can be perceived as arrogance that Mayfield does, painting a target on his back.
This controversy is perfect for these two players and the year 2019. It's a big nothing burger that will get those both pro- and anti-Baker/Sherman fired up and make them retreat into their respective corners of the internet to scream into an empty void about a topic so made-for-radio even Colin Cowherd couldn't dream up a more perfect scenario.
It even comes with grainy video.
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