Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is hosting his annual “Fun day with LJ” through his Forever Dreamers foundation and from posts all across social media, Jackson isn’t there for a quick photo op. He’s participating in the action and making these kids’ dreams come true.
But a recent video drew the ire of Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who urges Jackson to recognize unnecessary risk.
“If Lamar Jackson currently had a good agent, Lamar would be receiving a phone call with a very clear and direct message: Stop playing defensive back or receiver on an asphalt basketball court,” Florio wrote. “A video has emerged of Jackson doing both. And while he wasn’t injured while doing either, there’s simply no reason to take that risk while on the brink of signing a life-changing contract with the Ravens. A broken ankle, torn ACL, ruptured, Achilles’ tendon, or other similar injury would end those talks, immediately.”
Florio is a former West Virginia lawyer who practiced labor law before giving up the profession to write about professional football. Though his words are brash and, in my opinion, condescending, I do believe the message is out of respect and genuine concern for Jackson.
“This isn’t hard, and it shouldn’t be controversial,” Florio continues. “No player closing in on $40 million or so per year should be taking these risks just for kicks. Setting aside the question of whether the Ravens would declare any mishap a non-football injury and not pay his salary for 2021, the bigger issue here comes from the fact that his contract still isn’t finalized. Get injured playing DB or WR on a basketball [court], and it won’t get done.”
As Florio said, Jackson is in negotiations on a contract capable of multi-generational wealth. If something were to happen to Jackson, it would be devastating.
As for my opinion, Jackson is his own person and own man. I think he understands the risks of his actions and knows the consequences. Jackson is a smart and responsible player and he’s shown that throughout his career.
Regarding the risks, Jackson is subjected to risks each time he rides in a vehicle or enters a shower. Freak accidents occur and that’s a part of life.
With this in mind, I do think mitigating unnecessary risks makes sense. It’s not that Jackson isn’t considering his actions. It’s that Jackson could be the safest person on that court, paying close attention to his surroundings and protecting himself, but it only takes one person to cross Jackson’s path at the wrong moment to end up with a rolled ankle or worse.
In all, I am in no position to tell Jackson what he should and shouldn’t do and that’s not the purpose or angle I’m approaching this with. I think Florio’s impetuous delivery overshadowed his genuine concern for Jackson and wanted to share how I view this situation.