Baker Mayfield took the stage inside the Casey Coleman Fieldhouse Tuesday morning, grabbed the microphone and dove right into the day's events with the same fearlessness with which he approaches each game day.
The difference, though: He had nothing to fear, just plenty to cheer.
Mayfield played the role of emcee Tuesday for the Browns' inaugural Special Olympics Ohio Unified Sports uniform reveal and Play Football! Clinic at the team's facility in Berea. In a partnership with Special Olympics Ohio, the Browns hosted all seven teams from the Unified Flag Football initiative: Max Hayes, Lincoln West, John Marshall, Lorain, Avon, Rocky River and Avon Lake.
Each team was introduced by Mayfield before showing off their new uniforms, featuring their school colors and the Browns' orange and brown striping. The quarterback and fellow Browns Garrett Gilbert, Willie Wright and Brandin Bryant cheered and welcomed the athletes onto the stage for a team photo with the players.
"I do a lot for Special Olympics because I thoroughly enjoy it and I truly think it goes a long way," Mayfield said afterward. "Kids who weren't as blessed to have the same circumstances as other kids, being able to give back to them and then knowing that the Browns are joining in to help with that cause I think goes a long way. Special Olympics Ohio has over 22,000 athletes and to have a few teams here just to get recognized and we continue to build that relationship I think is very important.
"Just the smile and the energy on every kid's face as they come out and they just get to be outside or show their new jersey off, it's the little things to me that I always walk away with. Little things go a long way and so just being able to give back just a tiny bit goes a long way with them."
Recently, Special Olympics Ohio received a $5,000 Browns PLAY! 60 grant toward launching the Unified Flag Football initiative in Northeast Ohio. Through the partnership, athletes and Unified Partners from local high schools will participate in this year's pilot program, which will provide opportunities for students with and without disabilities to play football on the same team.
Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that unites Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) as teammates for training and competition.
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