Posted on January 2, 2019
by Steve Janowick
Exciting times if you’re a pigskin fan living in the Charm City!
Just like the hard-nosed attitude of the city they play for, the Baltimore Ravens have recently transitioned from a pass happy, mediocre offense into a smash-mouth, grind-it-out, running-machine juggernaut that has taken the league by storm this season. Demoralizing and frustrating defenses, setting records and rejuvenating a complacent and frustrated fan base, the Ravens have successfully reinvented themselves by defying the modern NFL playbook and doing it their way.
And it all began when the starting quarterback got injured.
Enter one of the most electrifying, dynamic athletes ever to wear an NFL uniform. Lamar Jackson was drafted in the first round because of the show he put on in college-a show that rightfully earned him the Heisman Trophy in his sophomore year. The plan was to bring him along slowly and let him gradually grow into his eventual starting position in a year or two. But professional football is a fickle beast, and after week 9 that plan was scrapped, and he was suddenly “the guy.”
And from the get-go he didn’t disappoint. The team is now 6-1 since that first start and headed to the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Lamar Jackson possesses a skill-set that is very rare for an NFL quarterback. He’s raw but boasts unlimited potential. He can accelerate like a cheetah. He has incredible vision and instinct that allows him to slash, cut and confuse defenses. He can improvise on the fly to turn losses into significant gains. He also has an untapped cannon for an arm waiting to be fired. He’s the perfect engine in the perfect system (right now) to keep Baltimore’s offensive apparatus humming along.
Besides those gifted physical attributes, he also possesses a youthful energy and positive attitude that his teammates rally around, and the fans gravitate to. He is a high-character guy that stays out of trouble. He’s a fearless competitor. And he’s a tireless worker who toils away to better his craft.
So, with all that said, why is Lamar Jackson painfully inept at verbally communicating?
Yes, I said it.
Lamar Jackson, as gifted as he is, has a very difficult time speaking intelligibly during interviews and press conferences-and because perception is reality in 2019-that’s a problem. He is the leader of his team. He is the new face of an organization and he is a representative of an entire city. And when the cameras are on, he can barely manage to articulate his thoughts without those articulations sounding like gibberish.
Of course, no one is arguing his cognitive abilities or his intellect, I’m sure he’s a super-smart guy (to command an NFL offense you must be) but the way he orally conveys that smartness totally sells himself, and all he represents, short! And this isn’t youth, naïveté or stage fright at play either-even at 21, Jackson has been the center of attention under the football spotlights for years.
So where are his teammates? Where are the men who coach him up on the field? Where are the English teachers and administrators who passed him in college? It’s sad that we’ve come to this, really. When did it become normal to regard the English language (our native tongue) with such indifference? Especially from prominent people with influence. We’ve lowered the bar to unimaginable depths in 2019. We’ve gotten lazy across the board. Apathetic as a whole. Newsflash, world: it’s not cool or hip to speak poorly, and anyone who thinks they’re upping their ‘street cred’ by doing so is just being asinine.
I don’t claim to know about Lamar’s family, upbringing or any other variables or situations from his past that shape who he is, but I do know that he’s a three-year college student and a wealthy, professional athlete with any and all resources and means available at his disposal, and he still cannot, or will not, properly speak. That’s inexcusable. And it’s a detriment to not only him, but also the millions of kids that will emulate him.
All football coaches love to get on their high horses and preach about how they are not just about the X’s and O’s. About how they are, first and foremost, creators and shapers of men. Well, Lamar Jackson is a man. A very young one at that. He’s got his whole life ahead of him. And, truthfully, he’s just one bad collision away from a life off that football field. A life that will require him to work a real job for a living. A life that bears a completely different set of standards and requires a completely different set of skills than that of a scrambling quarterback.
So, to all the people who are influential in Lamar’s life-and you know who you are; if you really want to help create and shape him into a man, how about instead of only coaching him on the nuances of the RPO, you also start coaching him on some of the basic life skills he’ll need to succeed outside of football? Maybe then he’ll grow into a total, complete and fully-realized man one day, and not just one who can score touchdowns.
Either way, you’re our guy now, Lamar, and we are rooting for you!
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