Baker wasn't chauffeuring students a couple times for viral views or to build his brand, he was moonlighting as an Uber driver for over a year while also putting up Heisman-worthy performances on the gridiron. Aaron Lax was one of those OU students, and in August 2016, he took an Uber that he'll remember for the rest of his life.
Lax is a sophomore who is a die-hard Sooners football fan. The 20-year-old has attended every home game and has even traveled to Pasadena for the thrilling 2018 Rose Bowl. We spoke to Aaron about his crazy night being driven by Mayfield and his thoughts on the 2017 Heisman winner being the first overall pick of the draft.
As told to Ben Gallagher and Ralph Warner
(This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.)
With over 7,000 retweets and nearly 40,000 likes, your tweet has spread like crazy among football fans on Twitter. Tell us about that night and how you ended up driving around by the would-be No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Back in August 2016, my friend and I were freshman going from rush party to rush party at OU. So, my friend and I called an Uber -- which we split -- to head to the next party. As the the SUV pulls up, my friend was like, "Oh my gosh, it's Baker Mayfield!" And I was like, "What?!"
As we're getting in, I realized it was him -- he had this little lanyard thing on his rearview mirror and it said "Baker Mayfield."
So, at this point in his Oklahoma career he was already building quite the legacy as a Sooner.
Yeah, in the previous season he was a Heisman candidate and took us to the College Football Playoff where we played in the Orange Bowl. So, everyone knew who he was.
What was his reputation with the student body like?
It was as good as it can get. When you have a quarterback like that with as much passion and confidence as Baker had, he's going to attract people.
Especially his teammates, that's why we were so good and why he was such a good leader because people had confidence in him. All the students did, too. Everyone loved him -- there's not one student here at OU that does not like Baker.
What kind of car was he driving?
It was either a black [Chevy] Tahoe or [GMC] Yukon, I remember it was a black SUV and it was pretty nice.
Was he playing music? If so, what particular genres or artists?
Yes, we were listening to Justin Timberlake -- he loves that guy.
What was the conversation like during the ride? Did you ask him why -- considering his notoriety -- he was Ubering?
We just had a good conversation with him -- Baker's a cool guy, he's pretty modest. I don't remember asking him why he was driving for Uber and he never said why. On the Uber app, it said he had been Ubering for a year-and-a-half, so I think that had to have been toward the end of his Uber career.
We asked him what he was doing later and he was like, "Yeah, just driving around the whole night." He didn't really say much, and it makes sense, because you don't want people to be following you.
We told him to keep driving and we were just talking about the upcoming football year and how he thought things were going to go. We also asked about how it is being in the spotlight as the star quarterback at OU.
About the "keep driving" part, a few people in the replies to your tweet pointed out how it was such a random route. Did Baker get lost or is there another reason why he took that particular route?
[Laughs.] The only reason why Baker took that route is because we wanted him to keep taking random turns, so we could keep talking to him more. We didn't really know where we were going anyway because it was our first weekend in Norman [Oklahoma] as freshman. "Take as long as you want," I remember telling him that.
Once we got out of the car, I got that selfie with him that I tweeted. The last thing I said to him was "Good luck in Houston." [The Sooners opened up the 2016 season against the Cougars in Houston on September 3.]
People were also wondering why it appeared to be a free ride in the screenshot.
On the trip fare it says $0.00 and I think that's because I wasn't the one who called the Uber -- it was my friend. On my receipt, it says my card was charged $14.50.
The screenshot shows that you gave him a five-star rating, too. Did he have any complimentary gum or water in the car?
No. Uber was obviously big back then, but I don't remember Ubers being on that train yet. People were also asking if I had tipped him. I think my friend may have, but I didn't have cash and Uber tipping back then wasn't a "thing" yet. You couldn't tip drivers in the app.
So, fast forward to a year-and-a-half later, what was your reaction when you saw that he was drafted No. 1 overall?
It was amazing, I remember we were watching at our [Phi Gamma Delta] fraternity house. I was extremely excited to see him go No. 1, we were jumping around and screaming once it happened. Even leading up to the draft, I was pumped because you heard all the speculation that he was maybe going to go No. 1 to the Browns. In the days before the draft, it wasn't a long shot, so you knew that it could happen. I was going to be happy either way though because if he didn't go to the Browns then he could go in the top 5 somewhere.
For him (and my Twitter's sake [Laughs.]), it ended up being for the best that he went No. 1. I immediately went and bought my white Baker MayfieldCleveland Browns jersey. I am a Dallas Cowboys fan through thick and thin, but I'll be rooting for the Browns -- except for when they play the Cowboys[Laughs.].
I think if there's anyone that can lead them in the right direction, Baker's going to be the one to do it. His leadership characteristics, his passion -- normal people don't have that. Baker's not going to give up, even if he has a tough time at first. He's going to bring everyone together and get all of Cleveland excited. My favorite memory of him is before each home game, when he would come over to the student section and get the crowd pumped up. He had the power to do that.
I honestly think he's going to do well, if not this year it's gonna come eventually.