After weeks of speculation about the severity of his injured knee and how long he’ll be sidelined with it, on Thursday, January 12, 2023, Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson took to social media to offer clarity.
He confirmed that the setback he suffered that has caused him to miss the team’s last five games of the regular season and ruled him out for this weekend’s Wildcard game is indeed a PCL strain and the grade which is 2, borderline 3. The former league MVP expressed his appreciation for all of his supporters and his disappointment about not being able to safely be on the field with his teammates who he calls his brothers.
In the days since he shared such personal medical information that not even head coach John Harbaugh couldn’t legally comment on it during his press conference the following day on Friday, January 13, 2023, Jackson has been met with vicious negative blowback and criticism in the media.
There have been reports that state some of his teammates are “frustrated” with his slow healing process has been going. There was even a ludicrous proposition proposed by one of his teammates, veteran receiver Sammy Watkins, via the Washington Post that he just “hobbles back out there” on a partially torn PCL and that the team just has him enter the game to pass the ball only and dial up any running plays for him.
As silly and somewhat selfish as Watkins’ suggestion was and came off, the words of NFL legends Michael Vick, Charles Woodson, and Sean Payton on the set of FOX NFL Kickoff were not only asinine but quite frankly disgusting.
The way they utterly disregarded the health and safety of the 26-year-old superstar by suggesting that he risk further injury for the sake of the team, misinterpreted his message, and called his
“I just don’t like it,” said Peyton. “The team is more important right now than you.”
The Superbowl-winning coach went on to say that while the gracious update and clarification that Jackson provided was appreciated, he doesn’t envision the Ravens wanting to retain him after this season that he thinks the two-time Pro Bowler will “end up with another club”.
Woodson is a former nine-time Pro Bowler and is both a Pro and College Football Hall of Fame inductee. He admitted that he would be more sympathetic towards Jackson if it were still the regular season and the Ravens weren’t in playoff contention anymore. However, since they are in the postseason, he should be willing to put his body on the line despite not being under contract after this season.
“We all play this game to try to win a Superbowl,” Woodsen said. “That’s the main goal and if you have a team that’s good enough to get to the playoffs and by not having a contract, I understand, he’s playing the game.”
He went on to say that he wouldn’t “have the balls” to “sit out” and not be out there with his teammates no matter the risk to himself and further speculated that Jackson is refusing to play through the injury because of the ongoing contract talks between him and the front office.
The most egregious comments and the ones that were likely the most hurtful to Jackson personally came from his childhood idol, Michael Vick, who he is constantly compared to and whose records he shattered in his first five years in the league.
“It’s the playoffs, you three games away,” Vick said. “Put a brace on it. Get it going. Put a brace on it, let’s go.”
The former four-time Pro Bowler went on to exclaim that he once played a whole season with a sprained MCL, implying that Jackson should have no issue trying to do the same with the hopes of winning a championship.
What Vick didn’t mention when he boasted about his toughness and willingness to play injury was which year in which he did it. He played 13 years in the league and signed several lucrative deals whereas Jackson is still on the precipice of his first while dealing with an injury that could get exacerbated if played on given his playing style.
Heisman Trophy Winner Claps Back on Jackson’s Behalf
One media member that spent a number of years in the league as a player who has been in Jackson’s corner throughout this whole ordeal and wants him to protect himself against jeopardizing his healthy and potentially his career is ESPN analyst, Robert Griffin III.
He served as his backup when he first got into the league from 2018-2020 and is the ultimate cautionary tale about how a young dual-threat quarterback with generational athleticism shouldn’t put the needs of his team over his own well-being for the sake of a single game or attempt to make a run at a title in a particular year.
When he entered the NFL in 2012 out of Baylor where he, like Jackson, won the Heisman Trophy and was selected in the first round, he set the league ablaze with his electrifying playmaking ability both as a passer and runner of the football. He was voted Offensive Rookie of the Year and his future appeared as bright as anyone that had entered the league at the time including Cam Newton who had just done the same the year prior.
Griffin helped lead the Washington Commanders, named Redskins at the time, to a playoff berth as a rookie, but after he suffered a sprained knee against the Ravens in a Week 14 win, he sat out just one game before returning to the lineup. He would go on to suffer a catastrophic knee injury in the same round of the playoffs that Vick and Woodson are suggesting Jackson suit.
A once promising career got derailed shortly after pulling out of the station. He was never the same even after recovering from his torn ACL and MCL. It’s a topic that Griffin has been very open about over the years and he took offense to the notion that his former teammate and pupil is being selfish for prioritizing his long-term health for the hope of short-term success.
Harbaugh has already been outspoken about how the organization would not play Jackson at less than 100 percent unless it was completely safe.
Ravens Remain Committed to Jackson Long-Term: Report
While Payton believes that the team and their star signal-caller are destined for a divorce, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the front office’s “stance” on inking him to a new deal for the long haul “hasn’t changed” and that the two sides intend to resume negotiations whenever the season ends.
“Essentially, sources say, despite the disappointment with Jackson not being able to play in the first round of the playoffs, the Ravens are still all-in,” Rapoport wrote.
His sources also informed him that Jackson would be at a “minimal risk of reinjury if he played” but that he remains steadfast in his stance that he doesn’t want to step on the field unless he can give it his all.