On Saturday, in what came as a surprise to absolutely no one, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.
After a historic season in which he accounted for 43 touchdowns, an NFL rushing record of 1,206 yards on the ground from a quarterback, and crossed up more defenders than Allen Iverson, Jackson became the youngest player since Jim Brown to be named MVP.
Not bad for a guy that 31 teams passed on during the 2018 NFL Draft.
“I want to thank God, first and foremost, because he’s the reason I’m here now,” Jackson began his acceptance speech. “There’s been a lot of doubt going on. Me being a running back, a receiver, stuff like that. That came when I got to the league.”
Doubts about Jackson’s capabilities were rooted in coded language that was spearheaded by Hall of Fame greats like Bill Polian, a former Indianapolis Colts exec, who was forced to apologize after insisting that the 23-year-old phenom would struggle as a quarterback.
“I was wrong because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him,” Polian admitted to USA Today in November. “Bottom line, I was wrong.”
He sure as hell was.
Though other than a light jab at skeptics, Jackson was otherwise unbothered while touting his ability to transform turmoil into triumph.
“I didn’t want to talk about that, the doubters, I wanted to talk about the ones who believed in me,” he said. “They were there from the start. I want to thank all the coaches who ever coached me on this long journey. I want to thank my brother, my sisters and my teammates, they’re my brothers too as well. It’s a unit at the end of the day. It’s a business, but we’re family off the field.”
In his first full season as a starter for the Baltimore Ravens, Jackson led the NFL with an electrifying 36 passing touchdowns after playing only 15 games. The Ravens also racked up a league-best 531 points and finished the season with a 14-2 record.
Not bad for a “wide receiver.”
“It feels good to win the award,” he told Yahoo after joining New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the only unanimous MVPs in league history. “He’s the guy who has six Super Bowls. I have to get my first one.”
And taking his skill set into account, it’s only a matter of time.