Quarterback Baker Mayfield was named Cleveland’s Professional Athlete of the Year at Wednesday’s 19th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
Mayfield beat out his fellow rookie teammate, cornerback Denzel Ward, and two Indians stars, pitcher Corey Kluber and third baseman Jose Ramirez, to win the award, which is handed out annually by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar presented the award.
Mayfield, the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, took home seven Rookie of the Week awards in a season that saw him break numerous Browns records and one big NFL milestone. Mayfield threw for 3,725 yards -- most ever by a Browns rookie and sixth-most in NFL history -- and 27 touchdowns -- most ever by an NFL rookie. He won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in November and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 16. He became just the third player in NFL history to throw at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts and enters 2019 with a streak of 13 consecutive games.
Mayfield’s impact on the Browns, though, went beyond the numbers. The two-time walk-on was a culture changer for a franchise that won just once in the previous two seasons.
Just one season into his NFL career, Mayfield has been one of the main reasons why so much optimism surrounds the Browns heading into 2019 and beyond.
“I like those guys that fight and claw for everything they get, and that is what he is,” coach Freddie Kitchens said during the latter part of the 2018 season. “I don’t think he is ever going to be settled. It is not something you have to pound into him that, hey you are not there yet. Hell, he knows that, but he is wanting to get there. When he gets to that level, he is going to try to get to the next level, and that is what you want in your quarterback and that is what you want in your team.
“That is what you want in every position but especially your quarterback because that goes over and flows over into the rest of the locker room.”