Lamar Jackson faces unfair opposition from everywhere, but he’s doing himself a disservice with an obvious action – Yahoo Sports

Lamar Jackson faces unfair opposition from everywhere, but he’s doing himself a disservice with an obvious action – Yahoo Sports

Lamar Jackson was blown away by NFL connoisseurs from Day 1, and despite his success, he still has detractors. Just as Cam Newton never wanted to appease no small number of people for a number of reasons, Jackson seems to have suffered a similar fate.

He did things his way, in an unorthodox way, and it worked beautifully for the first few years of his professional career. He doesn’t want to do things the way they’ve always been done, and the connoisseurs don’t like that.

Last week Jackson offered its first update on the status of his injured left knee that kept him on the sidelines for the final few weeks of the Ravens season, including the team’s AFC wildcard loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

Jackson wrote that he had a grade 2 PCL sprain, “bordering on a [Grade] 3″ and that he was still struggling with swelling and instability. The PCL is one of the main stabilizers of the knee joints; a grade 2 sprain is a partial tear and grade 3 is a complete tear.

On the field, Lamar isn’t Lamar without two good knees.

Off the field, he is unsigned for the 2023 season and beyond, an issue that has been in the headlines all season.

Lamar Jackson's last game of the 2022 season was on December 4th.  (Nathan Ray Seebeck - USA TODAY Sports)

Lamar Jackson’s final game of the 2022 season was December 4th. (Nathan Ray Seebeck – USA TODAY Sports)

Fans are fans, so expect a Twitter search “Lamar has quit” many letters would surface from those saying Jackson should risk his health, welfare and financial future with no guaranteed money if things go wrong. But it wasn’t just fans who were critical of Jackson. On the Fox Sports pregame showSean Payton was uncomfortably disparaging towards Jackson, telling the quarterback, “The team is more important than you.”

Michael Vick parroted Payton and then said: “Put on a brace, make it work.

Outsiders will always have their opinions, and many still refuse to consider professional athletes as human beings because some of them earn extra large paychecks, but that call came from within. This is dirty work.

The story goes on

If we wanted our inner Petty Betty to run wild, here’s a reminder that Payton was banned for an entire season for ignoring the bounty program one of his assistants was running in New Orleans (as former NFL player Junior Galette pointed out) and that Vick derailed his meteoric rise with categorically stupid decisions. But that would be a small thing, right?

Oops.

Payton, who retired from coaching last year because he said his heart wasn’t there, appears to be walking down the beaten path Jon Gruden once trod, teasing that he’ll leave his comfortable broadcast gig to pursue a franchise become rescuers — only if the price and situation are right, yes. However, he refused to acknowledge that Jackson might be doing the same and looking out for his best interests, both his current and future earning potential and his current and future physical and emotional health. Jackson wants to get paid and, we assume, be able to walk on his own in 40 years. Payton wants to be celebrated. And payed.

Let’s say Jackson played the Bengals. Had on braces, as Vick so blithely said, and started the game. dr Jess Flynn, a Boston-based sports medicine physician, told Yahoo Sports that Jackson was at risk of tearing the meniscus, or cartilage, in his knee; These tears often require surgery, and some cartilage damage can be a lifelong problem, Flynn said.

Let’s assume the worst has happened. If Jackson had ripped it the way they wanted and played poorly, Payton and Vick would likely have been the first to disparage his performance. And would they have offered to make up the difference in money Jackson lost on his contract? Of course not.

It would have been Robert Griffin III again, a talented quarterback who tarnishes his career for the long term by attending to the team’s immediate needs. Griffin has posted so much on Twitter in defense of Jackson. Playing injured for his “brothers/team… changed the course of my career,” Griffin tweeted.

The inimitable reporter Jim Trotter said recently on the NFL network that after a game in December, a player from another team approached him and unsolicited brought up Jackson’s injury. This player told Trotter that he suffered a PCL sprain in week 1 and was still not 100 percent fit months later.

Lamar Jackson doesn’t use an agent and it hurts him

A complicating factor in all of this is that Jackson doesn’t have an agent. He really, really should have one. Representing yourself — or working with a family member, as Jackson does — is fine up to a point, since rookie contracts are temporary and mostly standard. But the point at which Jackson should have caved in and hired an agent is long past.

An agent tells the player’s side through the media when Jackson was injured in December and Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh told reporters it was “week to week,” setting the expectation that it was a game -to-game situation, an agent would have gotten behind Harbaugh and said it was a period of at least four weeks, which is the average recovery from a PCL injury like Jackson’s.

An agent would have taken care of the team and pushed back on behalf of the client to ensure Jackson wasn’t pushed back too soon, a move that usually benefits the team over the player.

An agent also has the arguments at the negotiating table so the player doesn’t have to have them, and when a deal is struck any remaining bad feelings are mostly between the organization and the agent, not the player.

Jackson and the Ravens screwed up all of that, and it seems like things are about to get worse. Not just because Jackson doesn’t have an agent, but because he’s too online, and every cryptic message and public response to a troll is being tried by amateur detectives to figure out what that “really” means.

Also because many of Harbaugh’s public comments don’t sound like those of someone looking forward to welcoming back a franchise quarterback who turned 26 earlier this month and already has an MVP on his résumé, as if that type of player could easily be replicated.

And because Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti doesn’t want fully guaranteed five-year contracts like the one Cleveland agreed with Deshaun Watson to become the norm.

And because everyone has an opinion, too many of them support the NFL’s antiquated status quo: whoever cares about tomorrow gets shot and plays it through today. You don’t matter, come out for the team.

It all overlooks the cold truth: the team is a business and will cut a player mercilessly once they think it’s best for the business and bottom line, no matter how many injuries they’ve endured.

Lamar is also a shop. He knows and moves accordingly.

But his next step while rehabilitating his knee should be to find someone to do the dirty work for him.