CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield's focus is solely on the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's got no time for the “keyboard warriors.”
The Browns' polarizing quarterback downplayed death threats he received following his four-interception performance at Green Bay, calling attacks by his critics on social media “empty threats” and "ignorant.'"
"It’s just one of those things that it’s blown up to be a much bigger deal on the outside,” Mayfield said Thursday on a Zoom call following practice. “It’s not like it’s anything new for us.”
Mayfield didn't provide details on the threats, which were first revealed in an Instagram post earlier this week by his wife, Emily. She also lamented “lies” and “blatant disrespect” aimed at her husband.
Mayfield, who has had a stormy, injury-slowed fourth season in Cleveland, threw a career-high four picks in a 24-22 loss to the Packers on Christmas. He had missed two weeks of practice after testing positive for COVID-19, and only arrived in Wisconsin hours before kickoff.
But that didn't stop attacks from some laying blame on him for a loss that severely damaged Cleveland's playoff hopes.
Mayfield's accustomed to pointed and hateful criticism, and he's never been afraid to lash out at his detractors.
However, he said there are times when it becomes more difficult to ignore some of the vitriol, and this week was one of those instances for him and his family.
“It’s hard for me to say not to listen to it because I have quite a bit of experience of hearing a lot of opinions on the outside coming in,” Mayfield said. ”So it’s hard when it comes down to somebody that you love, that you care about. She’s not able to change some of the outcomes of the game — or any at all."
Mayfield said the threats did warrant intervention by team security or law enforcement to investigate them.
“It’s not that serious," he said.
However, Mayfield, who has dealt with a shoulder injury since Week 2, didn't miss an opportunity to push back at those coming at him.
“It’s just one of those things where we’re in a world today in society that there’s a lot of keyboard warriors that make empty threats and things like that,” he said. “It’s quite honestly ignorant when they go after people that aren’t directly involved in football, and then when you talk about taking your own life, killing somebody or all that.
"That, to me, is ignorance. But I try not to listen to it because those are not the people that I would listen to whether it was good or bad regardless.”
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he was aware of Emily Mayfield's claims, and said the team was willing to intervene if necessary.
“People can and do say some crazy things out there,” he said. "If it rises to the level of that, certainly, we can help address those type of things. Short of that, just in general and not specific to that, in general there is a lot of noise out there.”
It's been a noisy season for the Browns (7-8), who still have a chance to make the postseason, but need help. Cleveland plays at Pittsburgh on Monday night in what could be Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's final home game.
NOTES: The Browns got healthier with the return of center JC Tretter, CB Greg Newsome and K Chase McLaughlin from the COVID-19 reserve list. Newsome missed the past three games with a concussion suffered in practice on Dec. 10. ... K Chris Naggar, who filled in for McLaughlin against the Packers and had a costly missed PAT, was released. Stefanski wouldn't name his starting kicker. The Browns signed K Chris Blewitt to the practice squad on Wednesday. ... Star DE Myles Garrett (groin) practiced after resting on Tuesday. ... Rookie LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was out with a non-COVID-19-related illness.
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