Short and a little bit slight. Clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. I think [Jackson] is a wide receiver. Don’t wait to make the change. Don’t be like the kid from Ohio State [Terrelle Pryor] and be 29 when you make the change.
Bill Polian, Hall of Fame NFL General Manager
The first time I watched Lamar Jackson play an entire game was the opening game of the 2017 college football season.
The 2016 Heisman winner and the Louisville Cardinals were facing my beloved Purdue Boilermakers in Indianapolis. Early in that game, Louisville seemed hell-bent on proving that their offense was more than just Jackson.
They played conservatively, ran the ball and found ways to keep Purdue in the game well into the second half. Then, Lamar Jackson flipped a switch.
An eight-yard scamper on 3rd and 7. A 30-yard reception off of a play fake. Three long scoring drives where Jackson improvised first down after first down, wearing out the Boilermaker defense.
When the smoke cleared, Louisville scored on its last four drives of the game with Jackson putting up video game numbers. He rushed for 107 yards and threw for another 378 yards, all on a day that felt like he didn’t have his best stuff.
Lamar Jackson is the only quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in consecutive seasons. In a game where gaining yards and scoring touchdowns is the ultimate goal, Jackson proved to be better than most who ever played the position in college.
I would draft him in the second round. But, he has to be all-in on the wide receiver transition [if quarterback does not work out.]
Mel Kiper, ESPN analyst and NFL draft expert
Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, ESPN gave Lamar Jackson a draft grade of 85, citing “inconsistencies with progression reads, anticipation and ball placement.” This grade was lower than all-time greats like Christian Ponder (86), Brandon Weeden (87), Jake Locker (90) and Blake Bortles (91.)
Imagine dominating your profession for three years and being told you’re not good enough. You watch as your less accomplished peers earn praise for their potential, while decision-makers downplay your results.
Mel Kiper was quoted with, “he had a lot of layups,” when asked about Jackson’s throwing accuracy. No one bothered to see that Jackson’s receivers were open because defenses were petrified of Jackson’s ability to run the ball.
When asked about his doubters before his final bowl game, Jackson responded dejectedly, “It is annoying because quarterback is all I played all my life. People look at my legs and they see I can make big plays, but they don’t really see my arm, and I make big plays with my arm. I scored more touchdowns with my arm than my legs so …”
Four teams passed on Jackson in the 2018 Draft until the Baltimore Ravens selected him with the 32nd pick in the first round. Did anyone care that Jackson was undervalued? Perhaps, his coach, his mom and Lamar himself. Did he feel bad for himself?
After Jackson was selected, he slowly walked up to the stage to interview with former NFL great, Deion Sanders. Clad in a dapper, green tuxedo with ruffles, Sanders asked Lamar what he could have possibly done to get drafted earlier.
“Nothing. I’m happy to be a Raven. It don’t even matter,” replied Jackson. “They’re going to get a Super Bowl out of me. Believe that, believe that.”
Jackson went to work, using the doubters to fuel an insatiable work ethic. In his first camp, he told reporters that he “had chips on both shoulders.” He worked on his accuracy, learned an NFL playbook, studied film and hit the weight room to add muscle to his lean frame.
When Jackson replaced veteran quarterback, Joe Flacco, in week 10 of the 2018 season, he showed the league what he was capable of. After winning three of four games, he supplanted a now-healthy Joe Flacco as the starting QB and vaulted Baltimore into the playoffs.
One might think that a 6-1 record as a rookie would force Lamar’s doubters to eat crow and admit the error in their harsh judgment. They would be wrong. Prior to the 2019 season, some “experts” believed Baltimore should draft another quarterback.
[Baltimore] has a defense and enough parts around the quarterback where if you have some competent quarterback play, you can actually get into the playoffs. I don’t know that with Lamar you can.
Todd McShay, ESPN analyst and NFL draft expert
All Lamar has done this season is revolutionize the position of quarterback. With 977 yards rushing, he is on track to eclipse Michael Vick’s single-season record, with four games left in the season. Jackson is currently 9th in rushing and leads the league with 7 yards-per-carry.
Jackson has thrown for 28 touchdowns, second in the league. He ranks 11th in the league in completion percentage at 66%, ahead of household names like Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Phillip Rivers. So much for inaccurate.
Last week, Lamar made the San Francisco 49ers defense look like the 2017 Purdue Boilermakers. Against the best defense in the NFL, Lamar did whatever he wanted, rushing for 101 yards on just 16 carries and leading the Ravens to a 20-17 home victory. He duplicated that effort on Sunday, against a tough Buffalo defense on the road.
Has Jackson stopped to gloat and take a victory lap? At his post-game press conference, he wore a shirt that said, “Nobody cares. Work Harder!” When asked about his choice of attire, he responded humbly.
That’s every day. Nobody cares about what you’re doing. You’ve got to work harder. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to work hard at being the best. If they’re doubting you, work harder, it’s [doesn’t] matter. It’s their opinion. We’re just going to go.
Lamar Jackson, NFL superstar
The more the world gets to know Lamar Jackson, the more there is to like.
The World Doesn’t Care What You Are Up Against
We all fight a battle for relevance, for recognition, for an opportunity to show what we are capable for.
We want the world to recognize our unique talents. We want it now. We feel slighted, disrespected, unappreciated and up against odds tilted against us.
Your manager has a favorite, who might not be you. You might be a better performer than the favorite. Poor you. Who are you going to complain to and why would they care?
Your only choice is to outwork that person and make it undeniably clear with results.
We face bias. I was denied an opportunity for the first two manager positions I applied for early in my career. The reason? I did not have management experience.
This message was preposterous. I couldn’t become a manager without experience, but I couldn’t gain experience unless someone promoted me.
I could have grumbled about how unfair the situation felt. Who would have cared? Certainly, not my peers. They were busy worrying about their own perceptions of personal slights from management.
I could choose to pursue management roles outside of my company or double down on hard work to earn the role I wanted inside my company.
I see startup founders face seemingly insurmountable obstacles every day and find ways to overcome them. What choice do they have?
They can fold up shop and become an employee again. Or, they can focus on their company’s purpose and get back to work. There is no Plan C, where they seek pity for their carefully crafted excuses.
If you are frustrated with your career progress, understand that only one person can do something about it. Everyone else is focused on their own career. If you want to change your circumstances, focus on what you can control.
Nobody cares, work harder.
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