Lamar Jackson’s Tuesday night Twitter storm reminded me of how well intentioned and transparent he is. It also confirmed my suspicion that a lack of proper guidance could very well turn the 26-year-old NFL superstar into a cautionary tale about “pocket watching,” envy, and a victim’s mentality.
Lamar Jackson stands at a critical career crossroads. His desire to land a Deshaun Watson-type contract and the media-driven drumbeat of victimization have distracted him from the narrow path of football immortality he claims to prioritize.
Jackson wants what Watson has – a fully guaranteed, $200+ million contract. Corporate and social media have convinced Jackson that the Baltimore Ravens should ignore common sense and repeat the mistake the Cleveland Browns made with Watson.
It’s “pocket watching,” the act of calculating happiness based on another man’s bank account. Pocket watching is standard operating procedure in professional sports and in the business world at large. It’s not healthy. It leads to envy. Envy leads to poor decision-making and a lack of gratitude.
It corrupts the righteous man. Lamar Jackson is a righteous man fighting corruption. The careful reader can see it in Jackson’s tweets and public persona.
A day after tweeting “a letter to (his) fans” detailing his trade demand to the Ravens, Lamar Jackson unloaded another string of tweets Tuesday night revealing frustration with his plight as an NFL free agent.
His tweet storm started at 10:41 p.m. ET with a quote-tweet of NFL writer Steven Ruiz, who posted a two-minute highlight package of accurate throws Jackson made in his final start of the 2022 season.
“This game [emoji] replay replay braaa.”
Three minutes later, Jackson quote-tweeted Ruiz again. This time Ruiz posted Jackson’s impressive career stats against the coaches who have indicated they have no interest in pursuing Jackson in free agency.
Jackson responded: “I can’t wait to see you all.”
Twelve minutes later, Jackson unspooled solo tweets, directly addressing criticism that he allegedly skipped Baltimore’s most recent playoff game as a negotiating ploy, not because of a knee injury.
“I don’t remember me sitting out on my guys week 1 vs Jets To week 12 vs Broncos. How come all of a sudden I sit out because of money in which I could’ve got hurt at anytime within that time frame? When we know the Super Bowl been on my mind since April 2018.”
He immediately followed up with another tweet: “Let’s get real. I rather have a 100% PCL than go out there and play horrible forcing myself to put my guys in a bad situation now that’s selfish to me.”
He then pivoted to assuring his 1.1 million followers that he wasn’t venting out of anger.
“All in All I love you all don’t ever think I have an attitude speaking on the net. … I’m in great spirits at all times if you know me you know.”
Finally, around midnight, Jackson directed his followers to the fan page, Fanstruzz8.com, that he recently launched. He stated his energy is coming from the content on his fan page.
Just beneath the header to his website, Jackson quotes the Bible, Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
After the Bible quote, Jackson describes himself: “I came into this world as a child of God. I strive to leave a lasting legacy for those who came after me. Faith fuels me, so I feed it every day. My hunger is towards shading all the negativity that may come my way. I find strength in my faith, family, & my fans, for they keep my village strong. I’m an athlete. I’m a businessman. I’m a father. I’m a son. I’m a believer. I’m a dreamer.”
As it relates to his contract negotiation, God is not directing Lamar’s steps. Deshaun Watson is. Envy is. Pocket watching is. I suspect, based on Lamar’s tweets, his former Baltimore teammate Robert Griffin III is helping guide Jackson’s steps.
When Griffin was a rookie star for the Washington Redskins in 2012, he selfishly refused to come out of a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks despite a knee injury that made him an obvious liability. Griffin, now an ESPN broadcaster, has been the primary media promoter of the narrative that Jackson is a victim. Like Jackson and Watson, Griffin professes a love of Christ.
And like a lot of believers, they love the gospel of prosperity. Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and my former favorite pastor, Mike Todd, disciple them from afar.
No one is directing Jackson to Proverbs 14:30: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
Sexual immorality is perhaps the only sin more difficult to resist than envy. Envy clouds the narrow gate. It points toward the wide gate and broad road that lead to destruction.
The Baltimore Ravens constructed the narrow gate that made Lamar Jackson an NFL MVP and a superstar. Envy is driving Lamar away from that narrow path. Corporate and social media will not tell Jackson that his path is far different from Deshaun Watson’s and most other NFL quarterbacks.
Jackson’s run-first skill set lends itself to a specific offensive scheme and a specific football culture. He’s not a plug-and-play quarterback who can find success in every style of offense.
That’s not a major criticism. It’s a reflection of his narrow path. Rather than anger toward the Ravens, Jackson should feel gratitude toward the organization that took a chance on him and then built its franchise around his unique skills.
Jackson may convince another NFL franchise to meet his financial demands, but he will not duplicate the success he had in Baltimore. He’s never going to be a true pocket passer. His pursuit of Deshaun Watson money is going to compel him to change his style of play. It’s going to diminish him. The people with the best chance of elevating him as a passer reside in Baltimore. No organization and no coach will ever love Jackson more than the Ravens and John Harbaugh. He’s their creation, their child.
Unfortunately, his attitude has been corrupted. Gone is the young star who wore T-shirts advising his peers: “No One Cares. Work Harder.”
The most accomplished player in NFL history – Tom Brady – never submitted to financial envy. For 20 years, he chose a path, style of play, and organization that was right for his particular skill set. Peyton Manning out-earned Brady and compiled better statistics and more MVP trophies. But Brady won the marathon.
We don’t give black quarterbacks the advice that worked for the greatest of all time. Corporate and social media advise black quarterbacks to define themselves by money. We tell them they’re victims of a racist league.
The victim narrative started on draft night for Lamar Jackson.
Moments after the Ravens made Jackson the final pick of the first round, Deion Sanders, one of the greatest players in NFL history, placed a mic in Jackson’s face and baited him to play the victim.
“What could you have done differently, that you could’ve gotten out of that room quicker, and got drafted earlier, in your [college] career?” Sanders asked.
“Nothing. I’m happy to be a Raven,” Jackson responded back then.
Now Jackson is unhappy to be a Raven. Due to injury, he’s missed 10 of Baltimore’s last 22 games. Despite that, the organization would easily pay Jackson $40+ million a year over the next three or four seasons with $130 million in guarantees.
Jackson does not meet anyone’s standard of victim. He’s incredibly blessed. He can’t see it or acknowledge it because he’s blinded by envy and a choir of shortsighted sycophants singing the gospel song “We Shall Overcome.”
It’s sad. He’s a great kid. He wants to follow God. But a wicked culture is baiting him to chase the bag.