Baker Mayfield named Pro Sports Athlete of the Year

Credit: Ben Fontana

Baker Mayfield named Pro Sports Athlete of the Year

Browns breakthrough win over Jets named Best Moment in Cleveland Sports

February 7, 2019
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Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The resurrection of the Cleveland Browns in 2018 headlined the 19th annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Wednesday night held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland.

Baker Mayfield was named the Professional Athlete of the Year and the team’s 21-17 victory over the New York Jets that ended a 19-game winless streak, dubbed ‘Browns breakthrough,’ took home Best Moment in Cleveland Sports.

“I’m not going to diminish the moment here, but I think these people in the Cleveland Browns table [over here] want to tell you one thing: we got a lot more of these moments coming up here in the future I’m going to tell you that right now,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said to the crowd after accepting the award from play by play voice and Channel 3 sports director Jim Donovan.

Mayfield beat out teammate and Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward as well as a pair of Indians – 2-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber and third baseman Jose Ramirez for Pro Athlete of the Year.

“I can’t thank this city enough. I can’t thank the Haslam family enough, coach Dorsey, even Freddie [Kitchens]. We’re new friends,” Mayfield said as he accepted the award from former Browns quarterbacks Bernie Kosar and Paul McDonald. “These people took a chance on me and I don’t know if everybody knows my story, if you believe in me, I’ll probably take a bullet for you. And that’s what this city is all about. It’s a family.”

Mayfield broke the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes with 27 of them in just 14 games played – 13 starts surpassing the mark of 26 previously held by Payton Manning and Russell Wilson.

Mayfield’s 3,725 yards passing was also a new rookie franchise record and he became just the third quarterback in NFL history to throw a touchdown in each of his first 13 starts. A finalist for the Associated Press rookie of the Year award and a Pro Bowl alternate, Mayfield won the honor from the Pro Football Writers of America.

“This is quite the honor,” Mayfield said. “And we had an incredible season, but we’re not happy about it and we’re definitely not satisfied. And I think that’s the best part about this town is you guys have deserved a great team for so long and it’s going in the right direction, thanks to some of these people sitting right here. Thank you guys very much, appreciate you, [I] love Cleveland.”

After going winless in 2017 and firing head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley 8 games into the 2018 season, the Browns won 5 of their final 7 games and briefly crept into the periphery of the AFC playoff picture and were not eliminated from contention until Week 16.

“I think we’ve all said, let’s be competitive in the AFC North,” Dorsey said. “Let’s dare to take that challenge and step up to the next level. Now we’re going to have to do a lot of hard work in this thing. I think everybody’s going to have to be a little patient but at the end of the day, the Cleveland Browns, let’s wake the sleeping giant.”

Owner Dee Haslam, COO David Jenkins, Dorsey, head coach Freddie Kitchens and cornerback T.J. Carrie were among those at the ceremony representing the team.

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Lakewood High School soccer star Malvin Gblah and Solon High School track and field sensation Olivia Howell were named the male and female High School Athlete of the Year.

The University of Akron’s men’s soccer team and Rachel Bender of Baldwin Wallace University’s soccer team won male and female Collegiate Athlete of the Year awards.  

Lake Catholic High School freshman Sophia Pecjak was honored with the Courage Award after returning to the soccer field following a serious heart condition that was discovered in 2014 that included a 21-day hospital stay.