Baker Mayfield has spent a large part of his third training camp with the Browns as a listener.
Much of that listening has been on the field as he prepares for his third season as Cleveland's quarterback, but Mayfield has also focused on listening to his teammates about something that has nothing to do with football: racial injustice.
Mayfield is white. He doesn't have the same stories some of his Black teammates have on what hardships they've faced, but he's taken time this offseason to have conversations with them and hear their stories about social injustice. What experiences have angered them, and what can someone like Mayfield do to help?
"I can't put myself in their shoes for some of the inequalities that they have gone through and some of the things they have gone through, but I am trying to do the best I can by hearing their stories and sharing that," Mayfield said Sunday in a video call with local reporters. "That is the best part about it is hearing their stories so I can really start to feel their frustration and anger and push forward with them because that is what it is about. It is about all trying to create change together and be that solution."
Those conversations helped Mayfield speak with confidence Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium when he read the first portion of a statement from Browns players detailing the team's plan to address racial injustice. The statement, which was also read by Larry Ogunjobi and Jarvis Landry, included steps the Browns have planned to establish fair treatment of Black Americans in Northeast Ohio and beyond.
"We wanted a unique approach," Mayfield said. "We don't want to just make a statement to make a statement. It's not a PR stunt. It's something we truly have had deep discussion about in how to make that change and how to make that step."
The statement suggests changes in education, police reform and accountability, economic advancement and community support and non-partisan voter registration, education and turn out.
Players and coaches huddled behind Mayfield as he read the plan, which was another step the Browns have taken in recent months to use their platform and take initiative toward fixing social justice issues.
Coach Kevin Stefanski, who is also white and has organized team discussions on social justice issues in place of football activities this offseason, has been proud of how far the players have gone to encourage and build change in the community. He gave his own statement before the players took the mic, and he wanted to continue to show that unity, both with the team and with people in Northeast Ohio, is needed most.
"It is very appropriate that we are at home right now," Stefanski said. "It is also very appropriate that we have our family here with us [in the stands] because this is our Browns family right here. This family has some things that are weighing very heavily on their hearts, and I want our players, who are so mindful and so intentional about their thoughts, to share those with this city, this community, Northeast Ohio and football world."
Then, Mayfield took the mic. He wanted to show he was in solidarity with his teammates and the rest of the league in acknowledging and taking a stand against racial injustice.
After having dialogue with his teammates this offseason, Mayfield felt it was important for him to advocate for change.
"It's something I'm very passionate about," he said. "I want my guys to know that, and they do. It is not a separated or a one-sided movement. It's about all of us coming together for that same goal."