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Baker Mayfield may have demanded first-class travel, which may not matter


in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California.

Harry How

Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated and Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland have been feuding about Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield this offseason, with Klemko closely monitoring Mayfield and generally reporting favorably about him, and Grossi arguing that Mayfield is going to be a Johnny Manziel-like bust if he goes to the Browns.

Those interested in that media feud can listen to this radio argument, but it’s a separate radio segment that has drawn attention recently. Grossi said on his radio show that Mayfield had recently “demanded to be upgraded to first class” during his pre-draft travels around the country.

That drew a response from Klemko, who called it a “non-story” but added that he checked into it anyway and was assured that Mayfield never asked for a first-class upgrade.

Klemko said on Twitter that Grossi had incorrectly reported that Mayfield demanded first-class airfare “from the Browns.” Grossi responded by pointing out that he hadn’t said it was from the Browns. Klemko acknowledged that but insisted that Mayfield never even asked for, let alone “demanded” any upgrade.

What Grossi actually reported is that Mayfield “demanded” an upgrade, and also that Mayfield struggled to pay for the upgrade, suggesting that Mayfield has bad credit.

“He demanded to be upgraded to first class,” Grossi said. “It took him, like, three credit cards before one was good enough to use. What does that say?”

Frankly, it doesn’t say anything. First of all, so what if Mayfield’s credit cards are maxed out? Whatever credit card debt he might have now, he’ll easily be able to pay off as soon as he gets the signing bonus on his first contract. If Mayfield is spending on credit now with an expectation that he’ll pay it off in the coming months, he’s far from the only soon-to-be rookie behaving that way.

Secondly, Grossi seemed to be implying at first that Mayfield was “demanding” that NFL teams provide him with first-class travel, but if Mayfield was putting that travel on his own personal credit cards, that would mean he’s the one paying for the tickets. If you walk up to the counter at an airport, tell the gate agent which seat you’d like and slide your credit card over, that’s a normal customer service transaction, not a “demand.”

And most importantly, even if Mayfield is demanding that NFL teams fly him first class, so what? NFL prospects ought to be demanding of teams. These young men are getting poked, prodded and worked out to exhaustion over and over again in the weeks leading up to the draft. If they think they’re going to perform better at their visits with NFL teams if they’ve had comfortable travel, why shouldn’t they say so?

Ultimately, if Mayfield is being demanding in his pre-draft visits, that doesn’t tell us much of anything about what kind of NFL quarterback he’ll be. It could be spun as evidence that he’s a prima donna, or it could be spun as evidence that he’s the kind of great leader who demands the best of everyone around him. Either way, it’s beyond the point of whether he’s going to be a great NFL player.