Throughout the course of human history, and especially in professional sports, not all people, trends, innovations, and beliefs that go against the grain are universally embraced. If recorded history and almost every movie ever tells us anything, it is that what can not be understood or controlled is often discredited or destroyed.
Despite a historic start to his NFL career, Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson seemingly has a target on his back and has been unfairly criticized left and right since he entered the league.
Before becoming just the second player to ever be unanimously voted league MVP in just his second season, his haters weren’t afraid to have their names attached to their words. Now that he has proven that he not only can play quarterback in the NFL but do so at an elite level, they still disseminate their asinine criticisms and rhetoric while hiding behind the shroud of anonymity.
Gone are days of opposing coaches, front office executives, and talent evaluators boldly proclaiming that Jackson doesn’t have what it takes to cut it as a quarterback, or lacks the consistency as a passer to lead his team to the ultimate glory.
Let’s never forget that General Manager Bill Polian, whose in the Hall of Fame, suggested that Jackson switch positions to play wide receiver during the pre-draft process in 2018. This was in spite of Jackson having arguably the most prolific and electrifying collegiate career as a true dual-threat quarterback at the University of Louisville.
While those within the league aren’t courageous enough to have their harshly ludicrous critiques of Jackson formally associated with them, the national media hasn’t. They use any negative controversial statement made about Jackson to generate more traffic toward the articles on their websites, likes and shares of their social media posts, and viewers of their audio/visual platforms.
Instead of watching enough film to formulate an educated opinion and gain an understanding of his shortcomings, of which there are few, they use the slander from critics to justify their own misguided view of him as a quarterback.
There have been plenty of Top-10 lists that were complied based on some of those opinions this summer. On these lists, Jackson should’ve been a no-brainer for inclusion, if not in contention for the top spot, but instead was omitted altogether.
Lamar Jackson...— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) July 11, 2022
had his team #1 seed in AFC in early DEC...
despite being the #1 most injured team in history
ranked #1 in the NFL throwing outside the numbers...
& was top-10 in the NFL in rush yds when healthy
and after injury BAL went 0-5
…but he's not a top-10 QB
The fact that Lamar Jackson wasn't at the top is almost as egregious as him being left off all together but that's the way clickbait works. Compile a list to cause controversy by making a glaring omission of a obvious choice for contention. Burrow was 1 year wonder and made 10? https://t.co/5ufumDu8gX— Joshua Reed (@JoshReed907) July 19, 2022
It seems no matter what Jackson accomplishes, short of winning a Super Bowl and being named MVP of the big game (which could happen this season), the grading scale for him keeps getting pushed back further and further.
Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie contract and could get a new deal done with the team any day. Alternatively, he could wait until the 2022-23 season has ended. After watching far less accomplished quarterbacks receive market-setting deals this offseason, Jackson won’t come cheap. However, is worth every penny and then some, no matter what his haters in the media and around the league may suggest to the contrary.
The 25-year-old is poised for his best season to date. He’ll be protected by arguably the best offensive line the Ravens have had during his tenure, young and hungry weapons at his disposal, and another year of experience under his belt.
He dispelled nearly all of the false narratives about him last season and was even viewed as the leader in the MVP race until the injury bug became too much to overcome and eventually bit him, ending his season after 12 games. Jackson helped the Ravens overcome double-digits deficits, orchestrated late comebacks, and showed tremendous strides as a passer, even with a continuously crumbling pocket.
Until he leads the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory and hoists the Lombardi trophy, Jackson will be a lightning rod for outlandish slander. And even that might not be enough for some of his harshest critics to move on from their inherent biases about him.
“One thing I know is when you’re doing stuff, and it’s different than what everybody else does, and you’re great at it, people don’t like that,” inside linebacker Patrick Queen said in a recent post-practice press conference. “Lamar is going to keep being Lamar, and wherever that gets him – which I know is going to be high places, great places – hats off to him. But haters are going to be haters, man. That’s all it is.”