Back in March, at the NFL's annual meeting in Orlando, Browns coach Hue Jackson spoke of a new appreciation for Baker Mayfield and praised the Oklahoma quarterback's unusual ability to rally people around him.
To illustrate that point, Jackson — who along with general manager John Dorsey and a contingent from Cleveland's front office visited with Mayfield on a private visit in Norman roughly seven weeks ago — painted a picture of Mayfield and his teammates he won't soon forget.
"When we walked into the building, he made this sound. He just kind of came out of nowhere. He kind of went, 'Hee, hee!' And all the players in the building started going, 'Hee, hee!'" Jackson said, chuckling softly. "And here they go. It's the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen. That shows you something about what he means to young men and how he leads them."
The moment turned into an Internet moment, but it's a significant reason why the Browns made Mayfield the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, tabbing what's hopefully their quarterback of the future following two decades of instability at the position. Aside from the Heisman Trophy winner's track record of winning, production and accuracy, Mayfield's ability to lead his peers stands out.
"I think it starts with actions. Actions always speak louder than words. As cliché as that sounds, it is true. It starts with work ethic. It starts with what you show them in the offseason. How you develop, how you are mentally tough," Mayfield said Friday in an introductory news conference.
"You show them how passionate you are about the game, how badly you want to win. From there, you can put yourself into a position that you are respected and well liked, then you can speak your mind and you are able to influence people with youre words on top of that."
That approach should serve Mayfield well moving forward as the Browns look to bounce back from the worst two-year stretch in franchise history. While the plan is for Mayfield to sit and learn behind veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, whom Cleveland traded for last month, there will come a time for Mayfield to step up. The Browns have little doubt he'll rise to the occasion.
"I think what I saw from him was a guy who is a leader of men, and I think that's very important. He gets his teammates to play at a whole different level. I think that was seen at Oklahoma, and I expect him to do that here," said Jackson, who added Mayfield has an "inner strength" about him that should go a long way.
"In doing all of our research on Baker Mayfield, he's an individual who as earned it all the way through his life," general manager John Dorsey added. "As I look at this thing, whatever he has done from high school to college and now here, he's earning. He has really worked his way up here."
Mayfield's ready to earn it all over again in Cleveland.
"I did genuinely want to come here. This is a franchise that traditionally is great. They have a great history and these fans deserve a team that has success," he said.
"You want to be the guy to lead that. That is just human nature; you want to be that person. For me being as competitive as I am, the bigger the challenge for me, the better for me."