What I Learned about Leadership from Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns

Phil Cooke | 9/21/2018 | Staff
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I’ve never been a Cleveland Browns football fan, although I’ve gotten a kick over the years watching the agony of fans like my friend Hugh Hewitt. Early in my career my wife Kathleen and I spent about 12 years in Tulsa, and during that time I completed my Master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, so I’ve been a Sooner football fan for a long time. Over the last few years it was particularly fascinating watching quarterback Baker Mayfield lead the Sooners, and now, as the #1 draft pick, he’s playing for Cleveland. So last night’s game against the New York Jets caught my attention.

If you didn’t see it, the game was a come from behind victory for the Browns – the first victory in nearly 2 seasons. Mayfield was the backup, but when starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was injured near the end of the first quarter, Baker got his chance – and boy did he run with it. As I watched the game unfold, here’s some principles I noticed that could apply to leaders everywhere:

Reason - Mayfield - Opportunity - Job - Summer

Always be ready to step up. For whatever odd reason, Mayfield was never given the opportunity to compete for the starting job during summer practice. It was just assumed Taylor would be the guy. But that didn’t stop Mayfield from preparing for his moment. During the pre-season I noticed numerous reports of how late he would stay after practice, learning the new system, developing his skill, and getting ready for the year. No matter where you may be in the food chain at your organization, you never know when you may get the call, so be ready – as the Bible says “In season and out of season.”

Don’t play it safe. Early in the game, Taylor was throwing short, safe routes. In fact,...
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