But Mayfield also acknowledged that he plans on doing some things differently when it comes to leadership at his next stop — wherever that may be.
Toward the end of the 90-minute interview, Mayfield was asked if he was excited to get guys to rally around him in a new locker room. The quarterback made it clear that his process isn’t going to be about trying to get guys to like him.
“I’m not going to force it. I’m going to be myself,” Mayfield said. “Because I feel like I tried to force it when things on the field weren’t going well, like in the past couple of years. I feel like I’m going to go in there and be myself, because that’s worked for me in the past. I’m going to go in with the same work ethic and mentality. And if they don’t like me, that’s fine. But when I step on the field and I play as confident as I am and what I think I’m going to do on the field the next time I get a chance to do it, I’ll earn the respect of the guys who didn’t appreciate it from the beginning.
“And if I’m worried about getting them to like me, what am I doing? They don’t care if I like them either. They want their quarterback to win. They’re trying to get a paycheck. If their team wins, they get paid. So the guys who don’t really personally like me, that’s fine. But I have to have their respect. And the way I do that is just working my ass off, being myself. Because you can get sniffed out in a f—ing heartbeat if you’re fake. They’ll sniff that out quick.”
Mayfield wasn’t asked about the report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the Browns wanted “an adult” at quarterback — a comment Browns owner Jimmy Haslam denied making. But the quarterback did acknowledge that he’s working on improving at leading professional teammates in the locker room.
As Mayfield put it, one of a quarterback’s most important jobs is to get everyone to stave off complacency.
“It’s like, how can I get the best out of people that are making a s—t-ton of money?” Mayfield said. “Because I could always motivate people when we weren’t making money. That was easy. I could get in their face, I could do all that because, you know what, we were on the same playing field.
“You get a pension after four years, you get benefits and all that. So how do you motivate people who are at that point that have already reached it? That’s the biggest battle for me right now. I can motivate myself. I know how to do that. I haven’t done it, always, correctly. But I know how to do it. How can I get it out of everybody else? Because that’s a leadership perspective of being a quarterback. I have to get everybody else around me to be better than they really think they are.”
Mayfield added “a bunch” of his energy is going into his leadership, in part because he knows how he’s perceived and portrayed through the media matters for his teammates and their families.
“When they go home at night, they’re going to talk about how my quarterback acts,” Mayfield said. “And he better be a responsible guy that actually cares about them as human beings — not just winning. And how do you galvanize that? And that’s a huge issue.”
At this point, no one really knows where Mayfield’s next destination will be or when he’ll get there. But whoever he plays for could be getting a quarterback with a renewed appreciation for leadership and how much it matters as a team’s QB1.