Sport - NFL
Lamar Jackson Says Loyalty To Team-Mates Is The Key To His Game
Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson is widely regarded as one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL. The 2019 MVP is happy to talk about his rep to RSNG.com, but he’s keen to stress that without his teammates having his back he wouldn’t have the freedom to perform.
Here, the Pompano Beach, Florida-native talks about becoming stronger every time he plays, and the ultimate importance of family and friends…
Always A Team Player
“I have my team-mates’ backs and they have mine, there’s not much more to it than that,” begins Lamar Jackson.
The 25-year-old star has always been a team player. He became Louisville’s first-ever winner of the Heisman Trophy by virtue of his college performances, immediately coming to the recognition of the NFL and proving the prior recruiting ratings wrong. ESPN had him as a three out of five-star player, although Rivals.com went a star higher.
Louisville is what’s known as a Power Five school – one of the elite of college football in the United States – and although he received offers from Auburn, Florida and Clemson, he decided on the Cardinals.
His numbers were impressive and at the time of writing, he is the still the youngest-ever recipient of the Trophy, at 19 years and 337 days. Yet he will give his teammates credit before himself…
“There have been a few times when I haven’t played as well as I would like to and my team-mates have bailed me out,” Jackson says humbly.
“It’s true that everyone has a bad game every now and then and maybe even a bad patch of form. But without the strength of a team and its individuals, the whole franchise loses. All in all, we win and lose together – without that, there would be no point.”
The Stats That Tell The Story
Jackson is not a player or a person who likes to stand still. Indeed, his record of rushing touchdowns scored by himself up to the end of the 2021 regular season stood at 21, with 84 passing TDs.
During his 2019 NFL MVP season where the Ravens reached the playoffs with a 13-2 record, the 6ft 2in QB threw 36 touchdowns and ran in seven times on his own.
Cam Newton is head and shoulders above everyone on 75 rushing touchdowns, as of the 2022 off-season, with Hall of Famer Steve Young second on 43; but Jackson’s status as one of the best dual-threat QBs around means that, with the majority of his career still to play, he could get close to or overtake that.
“I always strive to improve my own game, and yeah, if that means scoring touchdowns myself when I get the opportunity, or I see the spaces to get into if my receivers aren’t open, then so be it.
“The practice field is there for us guys to go through the playbook until both myself and the offense are comfortable with it, and until we all feel nice and good with what we want to do before the season starts.”
There seems to be constant conjecture over whether Jackson will sign an extension at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium as the fifth and final year option was exercised by the franchise, but it doesn’t bother him.
“There’s been a lot of talk about a new contract for me over the last few years, but I’ve never wanted to focus on that,” he says. “I will try to play my best regardless of the situation. I’m always focused on improving and the Super Bowl.”
Flocking Back To Florida
It’s not just within football that Jackson zones in. He’s often using part of the off-season to practise back in his home state of Florida where he feels more comfortable. This is because of a solid network of friends – “they keep me on the straight and narrow and assist in making sure I work and play the right play.
“I love my people in South Florida, it’s what I know, they’re who I know best and believe me when I say that without them, I would not be where I am today. Loyalty goes both ways in life and whether that’s with your team-mates and colleagues within football or with family and friends – it’s vital.”
Stronger Every Time You Play
Earlier this year a video of Jackson went viral and caused some heated debate on internet forums. In the video, the Ravens’ quarterback is stationed on one knee at the 50-yard line of a practice facility in Florida, and his throw reaches the end zone at some speed.
It’s all part of Jackson’s improved body strength – which was hardly weak previously – but, as Jackson previously stated, he only ever wants to improve, and the best way to go about that is to be in peak physical condition.
“I want to make sure that my body is stronger every time I play – it’s as simple as that. If that means building more muscle so I can throw further and quicker, then I will do that.
“What’s important is it all has to be done sensibly and in proportion. You don’t want to bulk up too much and then lose speed because you need to sometimes get out of the pocket and scramble if needed, or rush for yards.
“If that throw is still accurate and hits its mark for a receiver quicker or further down the field, then that’s got to be a good thing, right? If that is achieved by being healthier, stronger and fitter then that’s my aim.
“It’s all a balance, and I think I’m getting that right now.”
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