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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Baker Mayfield, reporter Tony Grossi have long history of conflict

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield got into it with ESPN Cleveland reporter Tony Grossi on Wednesday, but this is not the first time the pair haven’t seen eye-to-eye.

Mayfield walked out of his media session after objecting to a question from Grossi. Mayfield called it the “dumbest question you could ask” before departing, though it was noted that Mayfield didn’t object to other questions about his mindset from different reporters.

This did not come out of nowhere. There’s a long history of Mayfield and Grossi clashing, and according to Grossi, it started before the Browns even drafted Mayfield. Grossi reported that Mayfield was demanding first-class flight accommodations for pre-draft visits, painting him as a high-maintenance prima donna. This depiction bothered people close to the quarterback, and Grossi attributes that story to the fact that he and Mayfield have never gotten along personally or professionally.

“I think it goes back to the pre-draft conversations we had, things I said, things I wrote. OK, fine, but you have to move along,” Grossi said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk. “I tried to talk to him twice, alone, but he just wants no part of that. If he’s not going to do that I have to do my job as best as I can.”

Grossi also repeatedly suggested that Sam Darnold, not Mayfield, should be at the top of Cleveland’s draft board in 2018. In late 2017, Grossi even suggested that Mayfield belonged behind not only Darnold, but also Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.

The perceived slights of Mayfield didn’t stop there. At one point, Grossi suggested that Mayfield was “put on this planet to sucker the Browns.” He also defended comparisons between Mayfield and Browns draft bust Johnny Manziel, writing that Mayfield “looks, sounds, acts and plays like the reincarnation of Manziel.” That may have been enough to color Mayfield’s opinion of Grossi, as the quarterback is famous for carrying a chip on his shoulder.

The bad feelings have carried over since Mayfield was drafted, but they’ve mostly been coming from the quarterback. Mayfield accused Grossi of “trying to get me to say something” when asked if the quarterback backed the Browns’ coaching staff at the end of the 2018 season. Less than a month later, Mayfield suggested that Grossi shouldn’t be considered truthful when the reporter slighted Kyler Murray, Mayfield’s successor at Oklahoma. Ironically, Grossi was comparing Murray to Manziel, having seemingly backed off from the Mayfield comparison.

Mayfield suggested Wednesday that he wasn’t going to change his ways after walking out on the media. Grossi stood by his handling of Mayfield and said he would simply keep trying to do his job. That could well lead to more clashes in the future.

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