When I get sick, I’m a pitiful, bedridden mess for days on end. When Baker Mayfield gets sick, he practices for the biggest football game of his life.
Mayfield has been ill since the Sooners touched down in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl semifinal. He’s been practicing fully, but he hasn’t done most of the other pregame festivities surrounding the game, like the Lawry’s Beef Bowl or the trip to Disneyland.
While his exact sickness hasn’t been named, the symptoms are said to be “flu-like.” Mayfield said his mom wasn’t too comfortable with him traveling in his condition, but he’s gonna give it a go if he’s 100 percent or not.
He wasn’t expected to be at Rose Bowl media day, but he showed up, assuring the world that he’ll be OK for New Year’s Day.
“I mean, obviously they would have liked to have had me here earlier,” Mayfield said. “But when I realized that the players, my teammates and some of these coaches would have to answer questions on my behalf, I got sick of it, and I know they're tired of it, too. They know I'm out there at practice, and like I said, I'm not dying, but I don't feel 100 percent right now. But I'm here for them so they don't have to answer questions.”
Every now and then, players get really sick for big games.
Kobe Bryant got food poisoning during the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Plenty of players, like Lionel Messi and Bill Russell, get anxious and vomit before big games. But the most famous is probably Michael Jordan, whose “Flu Game” in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals just had its 20th anniversary.
Jordan scored 38 points that day, including the go-ahead three in the game’s final minutes.
Mayfield now has a similar stage and apparently a similar malady as the Sooners prepare to face Georgia.
The difference between Mayfield and Jordan’s sickness is we haven’t heard any rumors about it being an, uhh, alternative sickness.
There’s a theory about MJ’s “flu.” Basically, it might not have been the flu at all. The Bulls’ trainer said it was food poisoning due to bad pizza.
Out of everybody in the room, [MJ] was the only one who ate. Nobody else had it. And then 2 o'clock in the morning I get a call to my room. Come to the room. He's curled up in the fetal position. We're looking at him, finding the team physician at that time.
Immediately I told him it's food poisoning. Not the flu.
Former NBA player Jalen Rose cryptically alluded to Jordan being hungover for the game as well.
But Mayfield is by all credible accounts just sick, which makes sense, seeing as it lasted at least from Wednesday through Saturday.
Now the table is set for the Baker Mayfield Flu Game. Watch out, Georgia.