Headliner Baker Mayfield may not play in Senior Bowl

Baker Mayfield’s anticipated next act – as the starting quarterback for the North team in the Senior Bowl on Saturday – may not happen.

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner is in Mobile, Alabama, practicing for the Senior Bowl, but whether he will play in the game was in doubt as of Wednesday.

The Oklahoma City Oklahoman reported on Thursday that Mayfield told reporters he might not play in the annual college all-star game because of a family situation.

Mayfield’s mother, Gina, is in the hospital. The Oklahoma quarterback made it clear to reporters that his mother’s health is his No. 1 priority right now, as it should be.

“Mom’s not doing too great,” Mayfield said. “Family first, always. Doesn’t matter what the situation is. I would never put myself before my mom.”

Mayfield arrived in Mobile on Tuesday, a day later than the most of the game participants, immediately sparking media speculation and unfounded reports that he was trying to get around some of the NFL evaluation process that is a traditional part of the Senior Bowl makeup. The game is a prime observation and evaluation ground by NFL scouts in their preparation for the 2018 NFL Draft in April.

It is an unfortunate accusation but also a very unfair one, given the full story, which the horde of reporters on site at the Senior Bowl didn’t bother to take into account before failing to give the uber competitive and controversial Mayfield the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who knows Mayfield knows that the idea of skirting any of the planned Senior Bowl activities, without a good reason, is not what he is all about. The OU quarterback is keenly aware that there are questions about his ability to be the quarterback he was in college at the next level.

If anything, he is bound and determined, with his natural confidence and chip he typically carries on his shoulder, to prove his NFL naysayers wrong.

Mayfield’s head and heart are absolutely in the right place. Under different circumstances, he would be all in and anxious to showcase what he can do by actively participating in the Senior Bowl, and not just because he wants to improve his NFL draft stock but because he truly loves the game of football.

Family if first to Mayfield, and that’s the way it should be. NFL opportunities will come and go, but his mom is forever.