As a die-hard Kentucky Wildcats fan, I hated Lamar Jackson long before any scout or journalist did. When Louisville started the 2015 season 0-3, I took to Twitter to challenge anybody I could to bet me on that year’s Kentucky vs. Louisville game. Kentucky would go on to open up that game with a 21-0 run that had me downright giddy. Long story short, Jackson came off the bench and ran wild against the Wildcat offense. My pride and wallet were ravaged, and I had a new nemesis to blame.
Ignorance and bias disguised as loyalty to my school drove me to the brink of insanity. I realize now that only a crazy person could have attempted to deny the greatness of Jackson as he made one of the greatest Heisman seasons in recent history seem effortless, but that didn’t stop me at the time.
I’m ready to admit it: I was wrong about Jackson. I wasted too much time being a hater when I should have been appreciating a generational talent. The 22-year-old continues to re-define the QB position on a weekly basis and has surged to the front of the pack in the MVP race. Jackson has led the Ravens to an AFC North leading record of 8-2 with wins over the Patriots and Texans by a combined 51 points. Not bad for a running back.
Jackson has directed a script even more “Hollywood” than his top wideout Marquise Brown. He goes from being told that he’d need a position change to make it in the league, to getting passed up on by all 31 other teams, to backing up Joe Flacco, to being a “lucky rookie” who can only dump and dime, to all of a sudden being at the forefront of the conversation for not only the best QB, but the best player in the league.
The Ravens’ signal caller possesses a unique skill set unlike any other QB. Everybody knows about the wheels. Jackson runs by defenders with ease and is far and away more elusive than anybody else at the position. Forcing opponents to respect his ground game opens up more space for Jackson to showcase his accuracy through the air. His prowess in the rushing game draws endless comparisons to Michael Vick. In Vick’s first full season as starter he threw 16 TDs. With 6 games remaining this year, Jackson has already thrown for 19 scores, a mark Vick eclipsed just twice in his career (20 and 21 TDs).
As for this reformed Jackson hater; I now wish the young man good health in a long and prosperous career. He’s as exciting of a player as any other and his brand of football is great for the league. I’ve come full circle and am now openly rooting for the dual threat star. Greatness should be recognized and celebrated, regardless of where a player went to school and whether or not they’re a traditional pocket passer. The sky is truly the limit for Jackson and his Ravens.
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