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The thing that’s often overlooked with white privilege, is that it’s an advantage that’s existence is solely based on individuals who fight to keep it going.
So when Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says the kinds of things he did in a recent interview with GQ, black people were quick to point out the double standard.
Translation: Cam Newton would get crucified if he ever talked this way.
But Mayfield isn’t the issue, it’s who, and how, he’s covered.
In the GQ piece that was released on Tuesday, titled, “Baker Mayfield is Feeling Dangerous,” we get a better understanding of why Mayfield is the way he is. To some, he’s the walking example of cocky and arrogant, and to others, he’s what happens when true self-confidence translates to success.
“We had barely won any games. I didn’t think I deserved it yet,” said Mayfield when discussing how Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, just outside of Cleveland, named a steak after him in the same way they’d for Urban Meyer and LeBron James.
But that’s at the beginning of the story. Because by the end, you get a better idea of how Mayfield’s mind works.
“Oh, my God! You just won the game! Like, the first game in two years!” said Mayfield’s wife to him after the Browns beat the New York Jets in Week 3. “That’s why I came here. That’s what I’m supposed to do,” he calmly replied.
But the beginning and the end of the GQ article aren’t what people are talking about, it’s all the juicy quotes from Mayfield sandwiched in the middle. He talks about how it “blows his mind” that the New York Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in this summer’s draft after going 17-19 at Duke. He also admits that his apology for planting the Oklahoma flag in the middle of the field at Ohio State during his college days was completely bogus.
“Actually we won. That’s what we’re about. I had done so much and worked so hard to play for that school, I was just kinda….almost embarrassed for them to tell me to apologize.”
This the part where I remind you that a white woman from Tennessee wrote a letter to the Charlotte Observer about Cam Newtown in 2015 because she felt that “The chest puffs. The pelvic thrusts. The arrogant struts and the ‘in your face’ taunting of both the Titans’ players and fans,” crossed a line.
Newton won the MVP in 2015 and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Baker Mayfield has won a total of seven games in the NFL.
See the issue?
If a player like Newton celebrates too much, he’s classless. But when Mayfield talks trash, he’s labeled a “fiery competitor.”
The irony is that we were in this same place just a year ago when another outspoken and confident football player made headlines for his remarks about other players in the NFL in a piece by GQ.
When Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey called Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen “trash” and said Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was “overrated,” it caused quite a stir.
Ramsey also gave a breakdown of his opinion on many of the quarterbacks in the league, describing Ben Roethlisberger as “decent at best,” while stating that “Odell makes him” about Eli Manning.
“I think (Josh) Allen is trash. I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me,” Ramsey told GQ about Allen.
Last season, the Bills were 6-10, as Allen appeared in 12 games in which he threw more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (10), with a completion percentage of 52.8%, and a QBR rating of 49.8.
Ramsey was right but was vilified for his words.
How can an industry hate when players give cookie-cutter answers, but then turn around and criticize a player for being honest?
Well, that’s because the system is broken.
According to the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card that’s put together by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, as we already know, the overwhelming majority of sports media is made up of people who look like Baker Mayfield, not Cam Newton and Jalen Ramsey.
The overall diversity grade was a D+, as 85% of sports editors, 80.3% of sports columnists, and 82.1% of sports reporters are white.
That’s not fake news. When you get a chance, check out a press box/row the next time you’re at a sporting event. You’ll see that the numbers hold up.
Are there white people in sports media who can’t stand Baker Mayfield?
But are there enough people of color and minorities in positions of power in sports media that have the ability to control the narrative when Newton and Ramsey want to express themselves in the same way that Mayfield does?
And that’s the issue. Because who controls the mic, or the pen, controls the conversation.
For instance, when this entire discussion around Colin Kaepernick started in 2016, it was Steve Wyche, a black sports reporter, who noticed that he wasn’t standing during the national anthem and decided to ask him about it.
And just last week, when Eric Reid was at his locker discussing Jay Z’s new deal with the NFL, it was Ashley Holder and Jonathan Jones, two black sports reporters, that were the ones asking the questions we wanted the answers to.
Diversity isn’t just necessary, it’s also good for business.
The system is set up for Baker Mayfield to be a champion of the people, no matter how much he may annoy people of his own complexion. Guys like Cam Newton, Jalen Ramsey, and other black quarterbacks don’t have that luxury, or in this case, that privilege.
So while I understand why some are frustrated with some of the things Mayfield gets away with saying, and doing. I also recognize that it’s up to people like me to hold those accountable for the flawed narratives that are too often promoted.