Baker Mayfield may have demanded first-class travel, which may not matter

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Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated and Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland have been feuding about Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield this offseason, with Klemko closely monitoring Mayfield and generally reporting favorably about him, and Grossi arguing that Mayfield is going to be a Johnny Manziel-like bust if he goes to the Browns.

Those interested in that media feud can listen to this radio argument, but it’s a separate radio segment that has drawn attention recently. Grossi said on his radio show that Mayfield had recently “demanded to be upgraded to first class” during his pre-draft travels around the country.

That drew a response from Klemko, who called it a “non-story” but added that he checked into it anyway and was assured that Mayfield never asked for a first-class upgrade.

Klemko said on Twitter that Grossi had incorrectly reported that Mayfield demanded first-class airfare “from the Browns.” Grossi responded by pointing out that he hadn’t said it was from the Browns. Klemko acknowledged that but insisted that Mayfield never even asked for, let alone “demanded” any upgrade.

What Grossi actually reported is that Mayfield “demanded” an upgrade, and also that Mayfield struggled to pay for the upgrade, suggesting that Mayfield has bad credit.

“He demanded to be upgraded to first class,” Grossi said. “It took him, like, three credit cards before one was good enough to use. What does that say?”

Frankly, it doesn’t say anything. First of all, so what if Mayfield’s credit cards are maxed out? Whatever credit card debt he might have now, he’ll easily be able to pay off as soon as he gets the signing bonus on his first contract. If Mayfield is spending on credit now with an expectation that he’ll pay it off in the coming months, he’s far from the only soon-to-be rookie behaving that way.

Secondly, Grossi seemed to be implying at first that Mayfield was “demanding” that NFL teams provide him with first-class travel, but if Mayfield was putting that travel on his own personal credit cards, that would mean he’s the one paying for the tickets. If you walk up to the counter at an airport, tell the gate agent which seat you’d like and slide your credit card over, that’s a normal customer service transaction, not a “demand.”

And most importantly, even if Mayfield is demanding that NFL teams fly him first class, so what? NFL prospects ought to be demanding of teams. These young men are getting poked, prodded and worked out to exhaustion over and over again in the weeks leading up to the draft. If they think they’re going to perform better at their visits with NFL teams if they’ve had comfortable travel, why shouldn’t they say so?

Ultimately, if Mayfield is being demanding in his pre-draft visits, that doesn’t tell us much of anything about what kind of NFL quarterback he’ll be. It could be spun as evidence that he’s a prima donna, or it could be spun as evidence that he’s the kind of great leader who demands the best of everyone around him. Either way, it’s beyond the point of whether he’s going to be a great NFL player.

81 responses to “Baker Mayfield may have demanded first-class travel, which may not matter

  1. And why aren’t NFL teams requesting that prospects, who the majority of cases happen to be very large men, paying for first-class tickets in the first place?

  2. If you are serious about evaluating and drafting a quarterback who is committed to the long-term success of your organization, do you not give him first class treatment from pillar to post?

  3. Tony Grossi is a HACK. He’s wrong more than he’s right, he consistently shows how old, out of touch, and lazy he is…and if you correct him, he blocks you on twitter. HE is so far from relevant, it’s amazing the man continues to work in Cleveland sports.

  4. Seems more like the media trying to create news, more than actually reporting it…

  5. “If Mayfield is spending on credit now with an expectation that he’ll pay it off in the coming months, he’s far from the only soon-to-be rookie behaving that way.”

    Exactly. I’m sure many top prospects have to ‘invest’ in multiple expenses before they sign an NFL contract.

  6. For players that may go in the first round, especially the upper half, you would think teams would just fly them in first class anyway, to show the team has some class. But, then again, some of these are the same teams that ask the incredibly weird and/or stupid questions at the combine (what would you do if I punched you? – is your mother a call girl? – junk like that), and demand that cities/states pay for their fancy new stadiums, so I guess we shouldn’t expect too much from teams.

  7. It has to be really awkward to want a player so bad that you start spreading lies about him so he falls to you.

  8. How do people like Tony Grossi still have a job? You just made a defamatory statement on the premise that the team was paying for a prospect’s travel and then immediately after you tried to make another defamatory statement on the premise that the player is paying for the travel. Which is it? How has no one absolutely demolished him for this?

  9. “It took him, like, three credit cards before one was good enough to use. What does that say?”

    It says he’s a college athlete that’s not payed to play the football games, and likely doesn’t have time for a job that would afford him hundreds of dollars for airfare. Do you know how many college students survive on credit cards, student loans and grants every single year? This is the furthest thing from implying he has bed credit. It’d be more suspect if he was paying for first class with crisp $100 bills.

  10. They should all being given first-class flights and PAID to be at the Draft television event. Why should they not be treated as well as the talking-heads on ESPN or the NFL Network?

  11. If Mayfield’s credit cards are maxed out, that is an excellent sign that he has not taken a bunch of advance money from his agent. I find that very refreshing. Many guys in his position are already driving Porsches and chartering NetJets using the bribe money their agent used to get them to sign a representation contract.
    NFL teams should fly their top prospects in Business Class because it just makes sense to not have your potential franchise player having to twist and contort his body in Coach.

  12. Grossi is generally regarded as a joke in Cleveland. Terrible “reporter”. There are a lot of good ones here; he isn’t one of them. He’s had issues with former owner Randy Lerner, Jim Nance (for some reason) and now Klemko. He had it in for Mangini the second he was hired and no doubt is on a “Mayfield Sucks” campaign. Grossi’s not good at all.

  13. Sounds like Grossi is doing whatever he can to make sure Mayfield makes it to #4.

  14. Sounds like Grossi is just trying to find anything to take down Mayfield. Plenty of college kids have maxed out credit cards and bad credit. These are life management skills that aren’t taught in college. This says Mayfield’s just your typical college kid.

  15. First of all, so what if Mayfield’s credit cards are maxed out? Whatever credit card debt he might have now, he’ll easily be able to pay off as soon as he gets the signing bonus on his first contract

    If I were an owner I would be concerned about someone living beyond their means. It really doesn’t matter how much a person earns if they continually are spending more than they are making. There are lots of professional sports players who have earned millions and are now broke.

  16. Nobody… NOBODY… among the fan base of the Cleveland Browns pays even the slightest attention to anything Tony Grossi says. He is the most petty, thin-skinned “journalist” in the world of pro football.

  17. As HeavyD says. Tall people don’t fit comfortably in coach seats. Football players, and quarterbacks in particular, tend to be a lot taller than average.

  18. Here I am thinking they all get First Class anyway. Heck, in 2 weeks from now they are all going to be Millionaires. Why is this even a story? I get it… he might have bad credit. Sure that could be a concern, but a personal concern. It is not like he would break any traditions of a former NFL player gone broke or anything. This guy is a Winner and the media will do whatever it can to tear these guys apart.

  19. Can’t blame him even if it were true, although I’d expect teams to foot that bill upfront and they probably do. They are doing the inviting and equally tryinf to make a good impression. And why would Mayfield want to sit in coach and be hassled at a turning point in his life. This guy’s got a beef with Mayfield.

  20. Here we go with another so-called newsman named Grossi prejudging and slamming a player before he even joins a team. I saw that happen with Jay Cutler before he arrived in Chicago. It never stopped during his eight years with the Bears. I have little doubt that this guy Grossi will be the same with Mayfield if he should become a member of the Browns. Now we learn that multi-billion dollar NFL teams are not booking players they want to check out with first class airline tickets. This reveals a lack of class on the part of the teams. I am trying to imagine a 300 lb. player sitting in the coach section of an airliner. It is not a pretty picture!

  21. Grossi is the same guy who got fired by the Cleveland Plain Dealer for calling former Browns owner Randy Lerner the “Worlds most irrelevent billionaire”. This guy needs to go work for CNN.

  22. Sometimes your credit cards won’t work and it’s not because it’s over the limit it’s because there is suspicious transactions. I’d imagine if you are upgrading your plane tickets all over the country it might raise some red flags.

    Anyway, his agent should be paying for the first class tickets to be reimbursed from his contract.

    This is really just a crappy thing to report by someone who is biased and slinging mud at Mayfield.

  23. I’m no Mayfield fan. I hope the Browns take Darnold, but this is one of the biggest non-stories by Grossi in a long time. I fly time to time for business and it is a total pain. With all the money flowing around the NFL, there is no reason why they can’t fly these kids first class to a visit. Seats are cramped and I swear to Jesus I had an 18 month old being held by his mother next to me. Nice kid, nice mom, but not nice that the kid hacked and coughed on me.

    Maybe these players want every opportunity to look their best to teams and being squeezed into a sardine can day after day may not be conducive to that.

  24. Once the name Tony Grossi was mentioned you know there’s a lot of “fabrication”. This guy always has an axe to grind on something and will write anything to try and be relevant and have people read his dribble. Complete hack and has been for years. How he still has a job is beyond me but he must be good at the con game.

  25. Agree 100 percent. I thought the teams were paying for these guys to come out thats a joke. Grossi seems to have an agenda against mayfield wat college kids dont have maxed credit cards Ask him if he had any maxed cards in college

  26. I would have guessed that all teams would be offering first round prospects first class tickets. What are they offering? A bus ticket and a link for the Uber app?

  27. “Red flag.


    About playing for Cleveland? I agree. If an NFL team, a quarter of billion dollar per year business, is asking a top prospect in the draft for a private workout and not springing for 1st class, maybe it’s not an organization you should be all that excited about joining…

  28. the last thing I need is some 6’6″ 320 # guy sharing an armrest with me in coach.

  29. It is insane to me that these billion dollar teams can’t spring for first class to fly these guys in on their own. Matter of fact, I just expected that to be the case. Some team is going to draft this guy to hopefully, eventually be the face of their franchise and they can’t make him as comfortable as possible for the trip there? I mean, he’s a smaller guy, but imagine Vita Vea or Orlando Brown getting stuck in coach. What’s $1000 even to the lowest revenue generating NFL franchise, especially when they just write it off as an expense anyway? The whole premise is just odd to me.

    Also, where are these guys agents in this? They can’t spring a few bucks for their clients when franchises are too cheap to do so? These kids (theoretically) are college students with limited money.

    First world problems, I know, but I don’t know, I’d like to think my team would be taking care of the guys they are hoping to employ.

  30. Johnny Manziel said he was going to come in and ”wreck this league”. Josh Rosen just said ” If Tom Brady has 6 Super Bowls, I want 7.” The disillusion player that’s not humble is the Red Flag, not paying for your own upgrade with a credit card.

  31. What a classless jerk this hack Grossi is. Now I wonder what he would’ve speculated if Mayfield pulled out a bankroll of benjamin’s? If the guy is willing to spend his own dime for the upgrade he isn’t “demanding” anything and that jerk should apologize to Mayfield immediately. I think it speaks volumes about Mayfiled’s character that he fits the bill of broke NCAA athlete who is trying to get by. Also, who ever made the comment of it doesn’t look good that you can’t manage your credit limits that’s a red flag is a bunch of BS. What kind of limit do you think he has, I guarantee none of those cards have more than a couple thousand each on them. Man what a dork?

  32. Good article and I can’t believe I agree with all points made by the writer/poster. In the new NFL everything is examined and over examined. Good for Mayfield wanting first class from multi-billion dollar business that will ask him for his blood, sweat and pee. Heck if I was in his position I would max out my credit cards knowing full well I am going from broke college student to gainfully employed and well compensated in a few weeks. By the way flying in coach is a degrading, obnoxious, and horrible experience as the airlines don’t care about the customer/herd.

  33. Toni Grossi works at ESPN Cleveland in the first place because his last reporting job canned him when he was reporting his opinions as news. ESPN is cool with that.

  34. If his credit cards are maxed out, so be it. That is what credit cards are fore and those who anticipating being able to EASILY pay those cards off in the future should not be judged the same way that the average Joe who maxes out cards is judged.

    Now if his agent, who is supposed to be far more educated in finance has maxed out credit that might be a bit of a red flag.

  35. Seriously?

    If Im a top 5 prospect, and I show up to the airport, and you show me a coach ticket, Im not going to be going. You make billions of dollars a year, and cant pony up another $100 to upgrade this kid from coach to first class?

    That’s the action of a third rate organization to begin with. Youre going to be paying this kid almost a hundred million dollars to be the face of your franchise, and you start off your interaction by treating him like a piece of cattle…

    Im 39…not a millennial. To me this sounds more like common business courtesy than being a “demanding millennial”

  36. This is complete BS. Teams pay for travel to personal workouts and meetings. They also pick up the hotel and meals. You also travel first class with a car service or team rep waiting to pick you up. Doesn’t matter what your draft status is, everyone gets the same treatment. Been there, done that!

  37. If he is paying for his own fare somebody needs have a word. If teams really want him there for a looksee they pay. It’s a work trip. And while they are at it ” we will have an upgrade please”. I can’t believe any young players are expected to pay for travel to meetings. Also wether he makes the grade or not will not depend on if he asks for upgrades. I don’t know who these radio guys are but they seem childish.

  38. A 5-11 QB coming from a spread offense in a conference that plays zero defense is projected as a top 5 QB? What a joke. Since protesting the NFL is hot right now, this might the issue I choose to kneel over.

  39. Considering that most NFL players are big dudes, you’d think that NFL teams wouldn’t expect them to squeeze into a middle seat in Coach.

  40. Stop the Manziel comparisons, Manziel was a spoiled brat who got everything he wanted and was enabled his entire life. Had very poor work ethic, wanted to be an NFL celebrity not a Football Player.

    Baker Mayfield walked on twice and one the starting QB job. At OU you did it knowing they had the Sugar Bowl MVP on Campus for 2 more years.

  41. “He demanded to be upgraded to first class,” Grossi said. “It took him, like, three credit cards before one was good enough to use. What does that say?”


    Cant imagine the amount of money it takes up front for these guys to get ready for the draft/train/live…. You have to spend money to make money! Heck, when I was applying/interviewing for residency I remember how much it cost me for suits and travel expenses…..and I WASNT going to be making millions of dollars over the next year.

  42. These teams have BILLIONS of dollars….you’d look cheap if you didn’t send them 1st class tickets. Get real. They’re asking HIM to go to their town…it’s not the other way around.
    You don’t ask a guy who you are looking at to be the face of your franchise for 10 years and try to save $500 on a plane trip.
    What’s next they tell him to use Uber to get to the stadium.

  43. Cleveland here. Tony Gossi is a joke. He got fired from the Cleveland Plain Dealer because he tweeted about Randy Lerner things that he NEVER should have with no journalistic justification. Now he works at a dead end AM station in Cleveland that plays musical chairs with show hosts so I think they don’t pay much as they have no ratings. Baker Mayfield gets ZERO credit for the little girl he helped through a very bad health situation and her parents were so grateful then spoke at her funeral (which he said was one of the toughest things he had ever done in his life). All Grossi knows is he got drunk and had a bad night. He does ZERO homework because he doesn’t have to because very few people even listen to the station. Baker is a flat out stud (and nice guy) and he also is a LEADER OF MEN… and we haven’t had that in Cleveland in a long long time. I take Baker with the #1 and Barkley at #4.

  44. This is the same Tony Grossi that said two years ago that this would be a bad draft for quarterbacks. Because he likes to scout two years ahead of time, before guys even start a single game in college.

  45. What? How about flying your team to Mayfield if you’re interested in him. Why should these players have to fly to perspective teams on their on dime? Unreal!

  46. He and Mary Kay Cabot have been around so long, they reported when Otto Graham was drafted. They need new sportswriters in that town.

  47. Per the CBA, all teams are required to do is advise visiting prospects to check in the night before to make sure they get boarding group A.

  48. Correction to the “story”…

    All Baker wanted was to “sit” in a first class overhead bin… not one in coach.

    To save some bucks, he came on board as the carry on luggage of Sister Jean… Baker was in one of those little cat carry tent things and he just didn’t want to be stuffed up in the coach overhead bins is all.

  49. private workouts are garbage. who pays? what if you get hurt like the Kentavious guy from NC State did when he was visiting the Giants? are they paying for that? does he have health insurance? also, teams only get 30 of these? or is that too much wear and tear on their g-5s? bring in two or three at a time. heck, anymore they are all working out with private concerns mostly in CA, AZ and FL. fly a few in at a time on your private jet. heck, i’m sure that can be written off on the taxes

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