Baltimore Ravens superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson will be immortalized with a statue outside of the University of Louisville’s Cardinal Stadium, the school’s athletic director, Vince Tyra, told ESPN Louisville’s Drew Deener.
Jackson won numerous accolades during his time in Louisville, including the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award during his spectacular sophomore season. He was also unanimously named to the 2016 All-American team that same season.
He was drafted by the Ravens in 2019 with the last pick of the first round. He took over as starting quarterback when veteran Joe Flacco went down with an injury. He has emerged as one of the league’s best players, leading the Ravens to three consecutive playoff berths.
A College Legend Immortalized
Jackson started 34 games across three seasons for the Cardinals, winning the program’s first Heisman Trophy in 2016 when he was just 19 years, 337 days old, the youngest in the history of the award. He electrified fans with his ability to make plays through the air and on the ground.
Though he was unable to lead the Cardinals to a bowl victory during his time at Louisville, Jackson remains beloved by the Louisville faithful. Many football fans in the Kentucky town have adopted the Ravens as their NFL team of choice, wrote Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic last year. Fans regularly show up to Cardinal football events wearing Ravens’ jerseys emblazoned with Jackson’s name and number. Few other players in any sport inspire such a devoted following from their college towns once they’re in a professional league.
Jackson has a philanthropic connection to the city as well, previously donating $25,000 to the Louisville chapter of Blessings in Backpacks, a non-profit that fights child hunger.
When he was injured in a playoff game against the Buffalo Bills in January, Bills fans raised $360,000 for Blessings in Backpacks to wish the quarterback well, per Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com.
A Baltimore Connection
Jackson’s statue could end up next to a fellow Baltimore quarterback in Johnny Unitas, who played for the University of Louisville for four years, setting several team records.
Unitas went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Baltimore Colts, winning three NFL championships and a Super Bowl. He was also named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player three times over the course of his 18 seasons in the league. A statue of Unitas has graced Cardinal Stadium since it opened in 1998.
Jackson has played every home game of his collegiate and professional career at a stadium that features a likeness of Unitas. M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore unveiled a statue of the legendary quarterback shortly after his death in 2002.
More to Come?
Despite Jackson’s short time in the NFL, the announcement of his statue has some Ravens fans wondering if he’ll eventually join Unitas outside M&T Bank Stadium. He has frequently expressed his love for Baltimore, telling Deion Sanders shortly after he was drafted by the Ravens, “They’re gonna get a Super Bowl out of me. Believe that.”
Jackson has been negotiating a contract extension with the Ravens for a few months, but there is clear mutual interest in getting a deal done. The 2019 MVP, the first in franchise history, told the media, “I would love to be here forever. I love Baltimore. I love the whole organization. I love everybody in the building.”
The 24-year-old signal caller has his sights firmly set on the upcoming season, hoping to deliver on his draft night promise to bring the Super Bowl back to Baltimore.