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#ColumnNes Regarding Lamar Jackson, the lack of maturity is a bigger issue than an ugly tweet

#ColumnNes Regarding Lamar Jackson, the lack of maturity is a bigger issue than an ugly tweet

I was busy doing a postgame Sunday night radio and podcast segment with Luke Jones at WNST and writing my Jacksonville post-mortem #ColumnNes when a fan tossed me a screenshot of Lamar Jackson’s words to a fan in East York, Pennsylvania.

To be honest, I thought it was fake. When I searched on Sunday night, it was still alive on his Twitter timeline so I knew it was real and then truly wondered if he had somehow been hacked?

This tweet was pulled down (after a few hours and being captured by many of his more than one million followers) and was replaced Monday morning with a legal threat to ESPN reporter Jamison Hensley.

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Today, as a small-time, longtime public figure and “former Ravens reporter” for 31 years here in Baltimore who has been stalked, doxxed, lied about regularly and offered a few death threats on the internet, I’m offering some helpful advice to Lamar Jackson on being a public figure: telling a random man on the internet (or anywhere for that matter) to “eat dick” is not grown-up behavior and is unbecoming for the quarterback of a National Football League team and the face of a $4 billion franchise. And chasing down one of the four reporters forced to report on your foolishness with your one million followers on the internet with cries of “Defamation of my character” only solidifies whatever entitlement you think you have earned as a professional athlete. (And, trust me, I’m no defender of Jamison Hensley.)

What, exactly, would you be trying to imply whilst telling a random man on the internet that because he never played football, he is a “MFer who has never done anything other than perform fellatio on other men” as a strategic, typed out insult?

I’m from the streets of Dundalk. I wasn’t born yesterday. I fully understand the intent of the insult.

I asked my audience to explain it to me like I’m 25 years old, make $25 million a year, want $250 million more guaranteed and everyone in my Baltimore Ravens world should be mad at a media member for trying to interpret the words as anything other than what they obviously are – because I run fast and throw a football and you cheer for my team?

And then came the absurd disappearance and the pretense that it never happened. And the Wednesday charade in Owings Mills with Chad Steele (the brand protector) lying to the gathered media about treatment for a strained quad. It’s like grade school and he wants the media to brush up the lies as facts.

And forcing head coach John Harbaugh to talk about it being “out of character” for Lamar Jackson, and taking the heat for the guttural lunacy and carelessness is bush league. This is the leadership that Owings Mills is offering these days after they blow double-digits leads every other week.

If Lamar Jackson regrets the statement to the fellow in Pennsylvania, he should’ve offered an apology to him. Like, immediately. If he regrets the world seeing his ugly words, Jackson has a platform with a million followers and could’ve offered a quick and polite retraction, apology, a few words (on video, audio, full sentences or in his own way) at any point since Sunday night. If it was truly “out of character,” then show your character and admit a mistake and move on.

(UPDATE: Lamar Jackson on Friday, December 2nd apologized. He said his girlfriend told him he should delete the text after a few hours of it being live.)

We all make mistakes. This is really no big deal if you own it. (Ya know, the way we tell our 12-year old kids that once they make a social media post, it’s there forever and it’s yours to keep?)

Instead, Lamar has gone into the “Quarterback Protection Program,” where all of his teammates have been asked about his foolishness before he has chosen to opine or apologize – days after screaming about “Defamation” after he clearly defamed himself.

But this goes deeper than the quarterback or how the team handles what’s left of the media they haven’t attempted to intimidate or bully on a daily basis. Everyone in the building worries about “what Steve thinks” and if the owner isn’t concerned, then no one else should be either.

Owner Steve Bisciotti cares far more about reputation than he does reality. I know this to be true.

And as much as he hates being called an oligarch – even though he behaves as one – anything that embarrasses his football franchise bothers him even more. And he loves being on his yacht in the Bahamas and jetting in for games without the distractions about Lamar’s contract and money and future. That’s the job of tall, handsome Chad Steele – to make it all go away, to make the reporters the bad guys with bad intentions.

No one in Owings Mills has been quick to discuss this most precarious circumstance regarding a generational talent at quarterback who wants more guaranteed money than Daddy is willing to offer. They’re onto Denver!

But this mind frame of “one think” and we’ll wrap our arms around our own (no matter what the words or deeds or crimes) and protect them no matter how obviously wrong they are is a way of life and the locker room code. That’s football. That’s the NFL. That’s sports, really.

Chad Steele thinks this will all go away if no one addresses it and there’s only a handful of media left to even bully. Half of the press conferences are Lamar’s co-workers who earn a paycheck from the franchise. One thing I can guarantee: Lamar Jackson will not be making any more offers to any more strangers on the internet to eat dicks.

Hey, if Aubrey Huff can call the city he played baseball in a “shithole” and come back to collect millions more from the Baltimore Orioles, I’m sure there will be very few repercussions for the star quarterback to tell a fan in Pennsylvania to eat just one dick.

But, if you are defending this action based on:

A. He was mad because he lost

B. He was venting

C. It was a “one time” thing

D. It’s out of character

E. Any of the pathetic choices above I saw on the Lamar fans’ defense council

You need to apply for a job in the sycophant department with the Baltimore Ravens and send all correspondence to Chad Steele, brand protector.

Lamar drives fast. Lamar plays football on concrete with kids. Lamar hugs sick kids in New Orleans and makes them happy. Lamar takes selfies in convenience stores and flea markets.

Lamar Jackson is not a bad human being.

Let me make this clear: even though he never called me “Mister Nestor,” I have been a Lamar fan and defender and cheerer and booster over the past five years. I was the guy paying to see him play every week in Section 513 and traveling all over the country hoping for a Baltimore victory.

I even gave him a gift from a pal of mine that he loved and wanted for his mother, whom I’ve never met, back in 2019:

I’m not the guy who thinks Lamar Jackson should be a running back.

I’m the guy who thinks it’s a bad idea for a $50 million-a-year quarterback to run into linebackers 12-to-20 times per week over a 17-game season and think it’s sustainable (because it’s not). And, like Steve Bisciotti, I’d be very hesitant to make a long-term, guaranteed investment at the moment for a lot of reasons, not the least being they believe they can throw a franchise tag on him next year and make him play for $50 million without guaranteeing him any more. (He’s already getting screwed out of $25 million this year by playing every week. I bet that eats at him!)

And as a legitimate media member, I’ve had many chances to ask Lamar Jackson questions and have never asked anything about his life off the field or social issues or social media etiquette. (You know, they probably would’ve taken my press credential if I tried to ask real questions during the media sessions?) I have only seen one interview that you probably haven’t in Rolling Stone a year ago, that has even broached “adult, non-football related” deeper topics like race, the vaccine, politics, Colin Kaepernick and it didn’t go well and the Ravens P.R. staff quickly pulled the plug on it once the reporter started asking legitimate questions beyond rap music.

I don’t know anything about Lamar Jackson other than what I see on Sundays and what he offers on social media (and most of that bores me and is poorly communicated with horrific grammar). I had to go to the Urban Dictionary to fully understand the “cappin” part of his vulgar tweet because it’s a word I’ve never used or needed to interpret. I’ve been in a room with Lamar Jackson a hundred times before Chad Steele threw me out without cause. The last few questions I ever asked him got a bristle from him because they were about key issues:

  1. Running into linebackers regularly and its sustainability
  2. Whether he really wants to be a member of the Baltimore Ravens
  3. Signing a long-term contract

But, a brand manager, he is not. And a mature adult, he apparently is not. Not yet, anyway.

And this week’s activity do not give me much hope given his lack of accountability, maturity and follow up after a fully self-created fiasco toward a relatively benign statement and the team’s coddling of his behavior this week.

The real problem isn’t that he went on social media after the game. The real problem is that he couldn’t control himself and didn’t really own his actions. (Well, until Friday.)

I don’t blame Harbaugh. I don’t blame Bisciotti. I don’t blame Lamar’s mother. I don’t blame Chad Steele.

I blame Lamar. Because he’s a grown ass man.

And Lamar should be answering for Lamar and communicating in full sentences why he thought this was the appropriate act – and follow up – of a local athlete who is trying to score the biggest contract in the history of the National Football League and be the face of the Baltimore Ravens. And this is a great teaching point in regard to social media, bullying, how-not-to-respond and maybe in the coming months he’ll do a PSA or some campaign to discuss his transgression and why kids shouldn’t do it?

I have no problem separating the player from the person.

I have always liked Lamar Jackson. When people ask me about him, I say he’s a nice, polite kid. Always has been to me, anyway.

And every time the “professional brand managers” like Chad Steele handle these unforced errors of public decorum and crisis management, they go to some insulting textbook about how to wash it all away and then the media gets vilified for asking the most obvious and legitimate questions. Everyone is handed a script. We all saw how that worked out when Ray Rice came out with his cellphone and everyone in the building wrapped their arms around the misunderstood running back. (You can see the alphabet list above…same excuses and reasons when the Atlantic City glass elevator attack went down. And a series of botched, embarrassing and insensitive embarrassments followed the lies, coverup and who-knew-what-and-when tales.)

The Baltimore Ravens front office lied repeatedly to cover up for Ray Rice. I’m not really sure they learned much because it didn’t cost anyone anything, other than Ray Rice and his wife. She was the real victim.

So, trying to get Jamison Hensley attacked by the throngs in purple ‘8’ jerseys on Monday morning with the cries of “Defamation” further convinces me that there aren’t enough grownups around Lamar Jackson.

It’s OK to admit that Lamar was wrong and you can still love him as your quarterback. But to defend the indefensible makes you a Lamar Jackson cultist, not a Baltimore Ravens fan. And Lamar’s incredible gift has been making “new Ravens fans” with his play all over the world. But will they still be Ravens fans when he is playing in Tampa Bay or Nashville or Pittsburgh in the coming years?

I care about the franchise because the players come and go. I care about the city. I care about Baltimore.

I’m sure Steve Bisciotti will be thinking even more about guaranteeing Lamar Jackson $250 million while Russell Wilson comes to town a shell of his former self and a cautionary tale about going “all in” on a quarterback.

Lamar Jackson is a guy who, reportedly, refused to be vaccinated and wound up missing games with COVID. This is a guy who has refused to employ an agent to do a $200 million contract because he doesn’t need one. He’s shat upon the franchise on social media on Draft Night when he knew the trade of his buddy Hollywood Brown was requested and honored. He then took a week off while his teammates were in Owings Mills working in May. He’s already made over $33 million. He’s rich. He needs nothing and no one. He just needs to not be self-defamed or injured. And he clearly needs to play well in the coming weeks to lead the Baltimore Ravens.

As for his Twitter, one minute it’s biblical phrases, the next he’s telling some rando in Central Pennsylvania to eat a dick.

Who does he listen to? Whom does he trust? Where does his advice come from in 2022?

And perhaps the most important point and the root of the mean tweet: if you think the Ravens might be better served to spend $50 million a year in other ways against their salary cap, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t smelt a football field or never done shit or eaten any dicks.

It means that you might be thinking more like Eric DeCosta and Steve Bisciotti than the folks surrounding Lamar Jackson these days.

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