‘Last’ in NFL Draft, Lamar Jackson inspired by scripture to be ‘first’ in Super Bowl

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By Michael Ashcraft —

The Ravens quarterback is not out to win. He’s out to destroy his opponents, to bury them under so many points, both passed and rushed. His mindset is insanely competitive.

He’s been compared to Mike Vick, but he passes more, and he’s been hailed as a prototype revolutionizing football for future generations of QBs, who ought to be both athletic like a running back and precise passers. The 22-year-old, who outgunned both Tom Brady and Russell Wilson in double digits this season, is charging madly into the NFL’s MVP.

On top of all that, Lamar Jackson is a Christian, who credited his faith when he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 at the University of Louisville.

“First and foremost, before I go further along in my speech, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Lamar said. “Without Him, none of us would be here right now.”

Lamar Jackson lost his dad in an automobile accident when he was eight. From then on, his single mother raised Lamar and his siblings in poverty in Pompano Beach, Florida. He credits Mom with doing her best to fill the role of Mom and Dad.

And the role of football coach.

Felicia Jones was a passionate athlete herself and pushed her son into football. Even at eight, he outran and outpassed all the other kids in Pop Warner football. Felicia watched intently from the sidelines and then took little Lamar home to give him more drills, either ones she saw or ones she made up. She even tackled him roughly so that he would intensify his game to beat bigger people.

Lamar, with his mom Felicia

“People don’t believe me,” Jackson said on ESPN. “She was an athlete. She used to play basketball. She saw what we were able to do, and she’d go back there and play football with us. She was just making us tougher because she’s older, so she’s bringing power that we’re not used to feeling. We didn’t take it like anything different.”

In addition to intense workouts, she drilled Lamar with a code of moral principles called The Super 8: God, prayer, faith, family, education, sacrifice, character and discipline.

By the time Lamar got to college he was a football machine, chewing up opponents and spitting them out. In his opening game during his sophomore year, he established the school record scoring eight touchdowns, all in the first half. He went on to become the youngest ever recipient of the Heisman trophy at age 19.

But when it came time for the NFL draft in 2018, 28 teams overlooked him in their picks. He was the last pick of the first round.

But the snub only inspired him. Lamar and his mom, who acted as his agent, remembered and repeated Matt. 20:16: “The last will be first, and the first last,” according to CBS Sports. He wasn’t a first in the NFL draft; he came in last. Now on the football field, he determined to finish first.

Lamar made his debut when Baltimore Ravens starting QB Joe Flacco was injured in 2018. He carried to victory against the Buffalo Bills passing for 24 yards and rushing for 39 yards. He was so good, coaches scrapped their offense plan centered around Flacco and redesigned everything for Lamar.

Lamar dressed snazzy for his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. Tim Tebow in the background.

In 2019 for the season-opener against the Miami Dolphins, Lamar became the youngest quarterback to achieve a perfect passer rating in the 59-10 win. During Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, he rushed 120 yards and three for 272 yards, setting a franchise record for the most TD passes in the first two games.

Lamar electrifies his team and inspires them to give 110%. He’s fast and befuddles defenders with his trademark quick switch. He absolutely snuffed the Los Angeles Rams and fought to win against the San Francisco 49ers, one of the toughest teams in the NFL right now. The 49ers focused on shutting Lamar down, and he still ran the ball for 100 yards.

ESPN pundits went ecstatic, calling him freakishly good. He has made the running back redundant. With Lamar, the Ravens are a nightmare team for defensives, killing with both the pass and the run.

Lamar is tearing down stereotypes of the black quarterback as a tough guy whose passing is not so precise. Doubtless, he’ll inspiring a future generation of players just like Michael Jordan did in basketball. But will anyone ever be as good as him? He may be a once-in-a-lifetime superstar.

“He can stand there and throw it and beat you that way,” says Kliff Kingsbury, coach of the Cardinals. “And he can beat you with his legs.”

Michael Ashcraft supports his Christian journalism selling bamboo steamers on Amazon.

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