Ralph E. Moore Jr.

By Ralph E. Moore Jr.,
Special to the AFRO

The Ravens’ season was going well, but then in week number, unlucky 13 against the Denver Broncos, star quarterback Lamar Jackson went down. It was officially diagnosed as a sprain in his PCL (posterior cruciate ligament). Jackson suffered a reported knee sprain on Dec. 4 against the Broncos and hasn’t taken the field since it happened. It was his left knee that Jackson described in a tweet last week in some detail, “There is still inflammation surrounding my knee and my knee remains unstable.” He reassured his many fans in Baltimore in the tweet, “I’m still in good spirits, as I continue with treatments on the road to recovery.”

With that news Jackson revealed himself out of the wildcard playoff contention against the Cincinnati Bengals during the MLK holiday weekend. Sadly, Jackson is still ‘hurtin for certain.’  The value to the team of the Ravens’ primary quarterback was 25 points per game this season.  In Jackson’s absence, there have been substitutions and injuries that foretell a very uncertain future in the playoffs. 

Although some predicted Jackson would be out for a couple of weeks or so at the most, it’s been five weeks of no games and 16 weeks of no practice. The fans miss him, not to mention the team, and Jackson misses them.  He recently tweeted, “I wish I could be out there with my guys more than anything, but I can’t give 100 percent of myself to my guys and fans. I’m still hopeful we still have a chance.”

Jackson’s backup quarterback, Tyler Huntley, has also been injured in his shoulder, causing him to miss the last regular season game for the Ravens against the Cincinnati Bengals in a pre-match of their first playoff game of the 2022-23 season. Huntley has been experiencing tendonitis in his throwing shoulder and a wrist injury. After practicing in the first week of the postseason, Huntley should’ve been ready for the wild card match against Cincinnati Bengals which was broadcast on Football Night in America on NBC-TV.

Huntley, whose record is 2-2 replacing Jackson this season does not play, it will be up to Anthony Brown to fill in. Huntley himself is an undrafted grad of Utah.  It is expected that both Huntley and Brown will quarterback for the Ravens against the Bengals in the Sunday night game.

But returning to Lamar Jackson, he comes from Pompano Beach, a Florida city just north of Fort Lauderdale. He is 26 years old. He played football successfully for Boynton Beach High School and went to the University of Louisville. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, the youngest player ever to win the prestigious prize at 19. After his junior season, Jackson decided to forgo his senior season and entered the 2018 NFL Draft where he was selected in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens. He soon replaced Joe Flacco as the team’s quarterback. Ironically, Jackson made his first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals in place of the then injured Joe Flacco.  Jackson became the first player in NFL history to pass for more than 250 yards and rush for 120 yards in one game.

Simply put, Lamar Jackson is an exceptionally gifted (college and pro record breaking) athlete.

Lamar Jackson is still on his rookie contract, a four-year deal signed after the 2018 NFL Draft. The rookie deal is worth approximately $9.5 million, with a signing bonus of just under $5 million. As he negotiates his next contract deal, the team’s owners should remember Lamar Jackson owns the Ravens franchise record for the most pass attempts without an interception, for example.

And the owners should realize how much fans in Baltimore love Lamar (nicknamed Snoop) Jackson.  His presence on the team has been a great boost to Baltimore. And if fans could vote, they would vote to give Jackson all he is asking for.  Jackson is currently playing without a contract playing on an extended year of his rookie-scale deal, which netted him roughly $23 million. The 25-year-old star will be eligible for a franchise tag next season that could pay him north of $45 million. If he isn’t tagged or extended, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. 

Baltimore fans are saying “pay the man” he is talented, inspiring and an adopted son of our city.  Pay him.

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