Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is having a season for the ages.
The 23-year-old is preparing to face the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs on Saturday (January 11), and while he isn’t necessarily thinking about his legacy, plenty of others are doing so.
“As a young, African-American quarterback, sometimes the road might be a little more slippery for him than for other people,” said Doug Williams to the Baltimore Sun. Williams is the senior vice president of player personnel for the Redskins. In 1988, he became the first Black quarterback to play in and win a Super Bowl.
He has spoken to Jackson in the past and did so prior to his first start in 2018.
“The call was basically to tell him, ‘Don’t look back. Just keep going forward.’ And I think that’s what he’s done.”
Jackson took those words advice and ran with them. He stepped in for an injured Joe Flacco in 2018 and never relinquished the starting job. He led the Ravens to six wins in their final seven games and the team won the division for the first time since 2012 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Last season didn’t end on a good note for Jackson and the Ravens as they were defeated by the Chargers and the rookie quarterback had an awful performance.
All of the questions that surrounded him coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft were brought up and louder with more fervor.
None more infamous than former NFL executive Bill Polian, who suggested Jackson would be better suited switching to wide receiver or another skill position that could make use of his rare athletic ability.
Polian walked back some of his comments after seeing Jackson’s overwhelming success this season. But he still feels some type of way, as he left Jackson off his All-Pro ballot.
Undeterred and committed to his craft, Jackson entered this season a vastly improved player. He led the Ravens to the best record in the NFL and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Jackson finished the regular season with 3,127 passing yards and 36 touchdowns (led the league) to only six interceptions. He completed 66.1% of his passes and led the league in QBR and was third in passer rating. He earned his first Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro selections.
The presumptive league MVP is the face of the quarterback revolution in the NFL, along with Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott.
Never satisfied, though, Jackson is proud of what Black quarterbacks have accomplished but knows that the work continues.
“Yes, that’s incredible. We just have to keep it going,” Jackson said. “We have others coming in, [the] next generation, and years on years coming. We just have to keep it going — keep doing great on the field, off the field, and help our other brothers out.”