It was quite a show on the banks of the Ohio on Sunday afternoon.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh boldly promised a “revolution” this season and while I’m not 100% sure that Lamar Jackson will soon ride down Pratt Street with the Lombardi Trophy, you can’t help but be impressed by the here and now and the thrill of what this kid is doing if you love Baltimore football.
Let’s put it this way: every defensive coordinator breaking down nine weeks of film this year sees the Che Guevara in what Greg Roman and his band of marauders is coming do to the 11 guys you dare put out there to chase Number Eight and varying triple-threat Heisman packages.
As I waited by the visiting locker room door (one that I have stood at many times in recent years after awful losses in Cincinnati) and watched Lamar from 50 feet away signing autographs for Ravens fans to the “MVP!” chants as he came off the field at Paul Brown Stadium, it started to hit me.
I called that play “an instant classic” and tweeted “send it to Canton” about 15 seconds after it happened. A few minutes after watching this purple coronation coming off the field in Cincy, Harbaugh confessed the obvious: that play is probably gonna change his life from an “under the radar” guy to more of a “what comes next?” set of expectations. I think the Patrick Mahomes “Jedi” play last year at Arrowhead was one of those, and well…he was the MVP of the NFL last year.
In the post game chats with Luke Jones, we literally talked about Michael Jordan.
And yes, I saw Michael Jordan play.
I’ve done this for 35 years. I haven’t ever compared anyone to Jordan – not in any sport.
And it’s because Lamar doesn’t have a football player to be compared to, really.
OK, maybe his teammate Robert Griffith III or Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham or Steve Young, etc. but not really because football is a different game in 2019. It all runs together and it’s all ancient history compared to what happened at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
I chatted with Lamar briefly after the game – we have a little fist-bump thing after he wins games and he wins most of the time – and the steadying voices of his teammates you hear surrounding him after the games make you feel like he might not fully grasp the truth of what happens when you do the things he’s doing on the field. He was surrounded more by old Louisville media and was smiling with familiar people around him in what amounts to northern Kentucky. I am assuming this will serve as his “homecoming” game for as long as he cardinals the Ravens offense.
Because I don’t sleep much, I woke up at 4 a.m. in my Covington, Kentucky hotel room and watched varying versions of the NFL Network, ESPN and anywhere else football is shown at such hours and every single segment showed “the Lamararama” that baked the Bengals linebackers and secondary into the Ohio turf. The “Houdini” moment…
The records don’t matter. The victims don’t matter. The results don’t lie.
Lamar Jackson is 13-3 as a starter in the NFL.
And he did something none of us have ever seen before on Sunday. One of the greatest football plays I’ve ever seen.
And isn’t that why we watch sports?
It doesn’t matter that it happened against an 0-9 team albeit for a diminished audience in beating a hapless, winless shell of a franchise in Cincinnati.
And you know what?
It can happen again…
I zoned in just on the visual of his footwork in slow motion – just watch the way his feet stop, turn, wheel and land and then accelerate – and I become convinced his skill set and comparison tree is indeed “one of one” when it comes to the