Baker Mayfield will be out of the league unless he learns to respect the game, Richard Sherman said in an astonishing critique of the Browns quarterback after Sherman said Mayfield snubbed a pregame handshake with the 49ers cornerback.
The 49ers cruised to a dominant 31-3 win over the Browns on Monday to move to 4-0, with the former No. 1 overall pick enduring a rough night at Levi's Stadium.
Sherman intercepted Mayfield's second pass and afterward revealed that the Niners defense was given extra motivation by the Mayfield's decision not to shake hands with Sherman and fellow San Francisco captain DeForest Buckner at the cointoss.
"What's amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning," Sherman said (via NFL.com). "That's some college s—. It's ridiculous.
"We're all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent — that's NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush-league stuff, that's disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that's gonna get us fired up."
Sherman's comments took on another life by mid-day Tuesday as the hashtag #HandshakeGate sprung up when videos posted to Twitter appear to show Mayfield embracing multiple 49ers captains, including tight end George Kittle, and shaking Sherman's hand before the pregame cointoss.
Sherman clarified his claim to MMQB later Tuesday, saying he was referring to Mayfield's behavior after the cointoss that angered the Niners: "They are making way too big of a story of a blowout. He pissed us off. We put a foot in his ass. End of story."
Mayfield completed only eight of his 22 pass attempts with two interceptions and was sacked four times in a defeat that sees the Browns drop to 2-3 in a campaign where they have struggled to live up to pre-season expectations.
"Respect the game. You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment — especially when you're young," Sherman told NFL.com.
"He hasn't earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He's acting like he was the MVP last year. If [Patrick] Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.
"And when you see a guy who doesn't? You humble him every chance you get. Because eventually, he will have respect for the league -- or he'll be out of it."
On his interception, which came when Mayfield attempted to force a throw to Antonio Callaway under pressure from Nick Bosa, Sherman added: "He was getting sacked, and he should have just eaten the ball.
"He's throwing as he's falling, and I've already broken on the ball, so there's no reason to chuck it. That's youth. You've got to eat that play and get to the next one.
"And he's throwing it to Callaway -- it's one thing if he puts it up for Odell or [Jarvis Landry], because those guys are so good they might be able to make a play. But no, he shouldn't have thrown it."
On Tuesday Sherman added that he shakes everyone's hand the same way and that the same courtesy should be extended.
Sherman also took aim at the former Oklahoma Sooners star for previous comments the unashamedly outspoken Mayfield made about New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, former teammate Duke Johnson and ex-Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
"There's no reason for him to say and do those things, especially given how little he's accomplished," Sherman said. "That's where he's gonna have to grow up. He might get there, but he has a long way to go."