It’s Super Bowl eve, and the best players in the NFL are gathered together for the 9th annual NFL Honors award ceremony. It’s announced that Ravens 2nd year QB Lamar Jackson has won the 2019 NFL MVP Award. Only 23 years of age, he’s the youngest player ever to win the NFL MVP and he joins Tom Brady as the only players in NFL history to win the award unanimously.
Very impressive for a player that GMs and scouts believed should have switched to another position, such as RB & WR.
Months coming up into the 2018 NFL Draft, there were doubts that the Heisman QB from Louisville could transition his game into the NFL successfully. One of his critics was the man known for building the Bills team that appeared in 4 straight Super Bowls and drafting a future Hall of Fame QB in Peyton Manning, former GM & Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian. In February of 2018, per The Washington Post, he said this when asked about Lamar Jackson on ESPN’s Golic & Wingo
“I think wide receiver. Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand, and that’s rare for wide receivers. This guy is incredible in the open field and [has] a great ability to separate and, again, he’s short and a little bit slight and clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. His accuracy isn’t there, so I would say, don’t wait to make that change, don’t be like the kid from Ohio State [Terrelle Pryor] and be 29 when you make the change.”
Polian track record is excellent, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. He didn’t want to entertain the thought of Lamar Jackson being a NFL QB.
Long time ESPN NFL drafted analyst Mel Kiper Jr also suggested months before the 2018 NFL Draft he should flex positions from a QB to a RB or WR suggesting that his accuracy is evidence he shouldn’t be considered a NFL QB.
Also add ESPN’s Monday Night Football analyst Booger McFarland to the doubters as well. He tweeted this in June of 2017.
it wont happen but if Louisville were really thinking about Lamar Jackson’s future they would move him to wr,thats where he will play in NFL— Booger (@ESPNBooger) June 20, 2017
And that was just some of the many doubters.
The Ravens traded with the Patriots for the 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and selected Lamar Jackson. He was the 5th QB selected in the 1st round. The other 4 QBs selected in the 1st round were Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen. All four were selected in the top 10. After being selected by the Ravens, he told NFL Network’s Deion Sanders “they’re going to get a Super Bowl out of me.”
Lamar Jackson became the 4-5 Baltimore Ravens starting QB week 11 of the 2018 NFL season after an injury to Joe Flacco. He would become the starter for good.
The Ravens would go on to finish the season 10-6 and win the NFC North running a run option style offense. After Lamar Jackson poor performance in their 23-17 loss to the Chargers in the AFC Wild Card round, people around the NFL still had their doubts. He was 14 of 29 passing with 3 turnovers. He was disastrous. He was booed by his own fans and he stated after the game, “They deserved better, I feel like I played poorly. I will move on and learn from this one”
Then came the 2019 NFL season.
Week 1, Lamar Jackson started the year off with a bang. Against the Dolphins, he was 17 of 20 for 324 yards passing for 5 TDs in a 59-10. It was the beginning of a record breaking MVP season
He passed for 36 TDs, most in a single season for a quarterback under the age of 23. His 113.3 passer rating is also a record high at his age.
His 1,206 rushing yards is a record for the most in a single season for a QB, passing Michael Vick
He’s also the youngest 1st team All-Pro QB in NFL history
Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to a franchise best record 14-2 and the AFC’s #1 seed, 1st time ever in Ravens history.
That kind of year silences ALL the doubters
Unfortunately, the Ravens were upset losing 28-12 to the #6 seed Titans. Lamar Jackson had mistakes, losing one fumble and throwing 2 picks (one of them was dropped by his TE Andrews). But he still tallied 508 yards, 365 passing and 143 yards rushing.
Per the Ravens Twitter, he had one hell of a year for a 22-23 year old QB
Accomplished a lot before the age of 23. pic.twitter.com/fJS7PkBXsf— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 7, 2020
Remember the 4 QBs drafted before Lamar?? He has more wins than all of them.
After winning the MVP, Lamar Jackson had something to say about his doubters and the past and future players who have and will be told they should change positions.
“Make those people eat their words,” he said. “It feels good when you can make those people eat their words because they’re so negative. How are you going to wake up and be so negative about somebody who’s not negative toward you or don’t do anything wrong? Don’t worry about what they say. Do you.”
Usually you’d might expect a 23 year old to be on top of the world after winning the NFL MVP. Not Lamar Jackson. He knows there’s still work to be done and, like he mentioned on draft night, winning a Super Bowl is his ultimate goal.
“I’m still young,” Jackson said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m not really trying to dwell on what I just did. If I win a Super Bowl, you’ll probably see a lot more emotion.”
Lamar Jackson should be a lesson to many people, not just sport athletes, to find your motivation, work hard, and always bet on yourself.