BEREA, Ohio — San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman felt disrespected by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield during the coin toss ahead of the Monday Night Football game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California earlier this week, and he let the world know about it.
After helping the 49ers to a 31-3 win over the Browns, Sherman told Michael Silver, a reporter with close ties to former Cleveland coach Hue Jackson, that he felt disrespected when Mayfield refused to shake his hand.
Video evidence of the coin toss/handshake refuted Sherman’s claims, and he told reporters that an apology to Mayfield would be forthcoming.
“I haven’t had my phone on me, just got out of practice, but I just heard that,” Mayfield said. “It’s nice of him.”
When the video surfaced, Mayfield felt vindicated.
“I know what I did, but that’s the one time the camera and something recording me has gone in my favor,” Mayfield said.
“I know how I handled it and exactly what I did. It is what it is. With you guys, people want to portray an image of me, of who I am as a person. I could care less. Surprised a little bit, but you know what, it is what it is.”
Mayfield said any perceived sign of disrespect was not intentional.
“I respect him, who he is as a player,” Mayfield said. “He’s a great player, has been for a while. In no way did I mean it like that.”
Mayfield had the support of his Browns teammates in the spat with Sherman, especially those who previously served as captains and have been at midfield for coin tosses.
“I feel like Baker gave him the respect he deserved,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “We know he’s a good player in this league. We know he makes plays, and if it’s something people use for motivation, I don’t know how people motivate themselves.
“Me, personally, I don’t see that as a slight, but I wasn’t in the situation. I don’t know if Baker said something or not, but it looked like they shook hands and it looked like they went their separate ways.”
Sherman was far from the only 49ers player to take umbrage with Mayfield.
Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa has a long memory and is not afraid of extracting a measure of payback on an old foe.
The former Ohio State Buckeyes star registered a sack of Mayfield in the waning seconds of the first half. Following the play, Bosa ran down the field jubilantly and pretended to wave and plant a flag on the field, something that Mayfield did at the 50-yard line of Ohio Stadium after leading the Oklahoma Sooners to an upset win over the Buckeyes in September of 2017.
“I do not think Sherman’s was a personal vendetta,” Mayfield said. “He said what he said. Bosa, good for him. He had it premeditated. He has been thinking about that obviously for two years now. That is a long time to think about that loss.”
Bitonio added, “I think they see Baker’s name, I think they see him in the media, I think they see some of his quotes and things of that nature, and they want a piece of him,” Bitonio said. “It’s one of those things that we’re going to expect and we’re ready for.”