Transcendent' Lamar Jackson Draws Comparisons to Michael Jordan, Tom Brady
The pro football universe is still buzzing about Lamar Jackson's electric performance in Monday night's thrilling, come-from-behind win over the Indianapolis Colts in overtime.
Here's a sample of what the pundits are saying:
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler: "I was like, 'What does this remind me of?' And I know that we draw this comparison almost to a tired extent, but it was sitting in my living room in the 90s as a high school and a college person watching Michael Jordan get into a billion fixes, and every single time you're like, 'You know this is going down to the last minute. You know that he's going to take care of whatever adversity's coming his way.' And Lamar Jackson talked about entering into a state of total calm in that game. The players around him believe it."
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: "Lamar's starting to remind me of early career [Tom Brady], where every game comes down to this insane ending, everyone thinks they're lucky, and everyone can't quite believe they managed to lose the game and can't figure out how and why. The reason is the quarterback, usually, and the coaching. They make their own luck."
The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Rodricks: "That was not merely a great game, and not merely great performances by the quarterback and his receivers. What really happened the ESPN cameras could not show: The duende in Lamar Jackson. Am I getting carried away? No. I just recognize duende when it appears. I look for it constantly. I have studied it for 30 years, since I first discovered this mysterious thing from Spanish folklore and literature. I have tried to be careful to never mistake duende for mere talent or fame. It is far more than that. The common translation of duende is 'hobgoblin' or 'ghost.' But it has a much larger meaning that takes us up the philosopher's elevator to the realm of the metaphysical. Duende, defined by the playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca, is star power, charisma, a kind of ghostly spirit that gets into the blood of artists — dancers, singers, writers of verse — and takes over. It gives the audience chills. It's thrilling and sometimes even a little scary. … We are in Baltimore during the Lamar Jackson era. We are in a special place and time. Let us give thanks and praise."
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "A transcendent athlete will find a way to make the night his even when the story seems headed in a different direction. That's what Jackson did at M&T Bank Stadium with a national audience watching on ESPN. This was a game the Ravens were supposed to win comfortably. Instead, the Colts seized the initiative and seemed determined to humiliate their hosts underneath the Monday night lights. By all rights, they should have flown home with a victory. Jackson did not see it that way, and he bent reality to his will using tools many people did not think he possessed. This is all we ask for from our great athletes. It's why we watch."
“Pardon the Interruption’s” Michael Wilbon: "Lamar Jackson can crush your soul. He did that to Indianapolis. It seems like the kind of victory, if you believe in momentum, this is the kind of thing that can get the Baltimore Ravens on a roll to have them play a stretch of great football."
NFL Network's Adam Rank: If you've got a player like Lamar Jackson that you thought was figured out years ago, [but] he's not figured out, he's actually better, it's like a shark who's learned how to use nunchucks. It just doesn't seem fair."
"Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager said Jackson's performance was the best by an NFL quarterback this season. Colts owner Jim Irsay went as far as to say it "may have been the single greatest performance in the NFL's 100-year history."
Wait, Jackson's Not a Top 5 MVP Candidate?
It seems like a given that Jackson should be in the discussion for NFL MVP, but apparently not everyone agrees.
NFL.com’s Jeffri Chadiha omitted Jackson from his weekly MVP watch. His top five (in order): Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Brady, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford.
Jackson also didn't crack ESPN’s list of the top five MVP candidates (Murray, Hebert, Josh Allen, Brady, Prescott).
"Jackson's heroic efforts against Indianapolis nearly pushed him into the top five," ESPN's Courtney Cronin wrote.
And then there's NFL.com’s David Carr, who named five quarterbacks under 30 he'd want to build a franchise around, and Jackson wasn't among them. His picks (in order): Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Herbert, Murray, Prescott.
Carr also left out Jackson in his Offensive Player Rankings. Seven quarterbacks made the list (including his brother, Derek Carr).
It's all subjective, of course, and all of the aforementioned quarterbacks are having great seasons. But to not include Jackson in the MVP conversation, especially after watching what he did Monday night, is baffling, especially if you take MVP to literally mean Most Valuable Player (as opposed to Player of the Year).
"Some other quarterbacks are off to great starts too, but I can't imagine anyone more valuable to his team than Jackson right now," Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones wrote.
Case in point: Jackson accounted for 504 of the Ravens' 523 yards of offense against the Colts.
"If you still don't get Lamar Jackson, you're just not paying attention now," Fox Sports Radio's Colin Cowherd said. "You're trying to be right and not get it right. We have this society of men now that cannot move off wrong; they somehow see it as a weakness. It's not a weakness. Being dumb's a weakness.
"Lamar Jackson's really good. He not only can get you to a Super Bowl, hell, maybe he should be a favorite. … The best word I would use to describe Lamar Jackson is electric."
On a side note, MVP candidate Herbert, who threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a touchdown in leading the Los Angeles Chargers to a 47-42 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, had high praise for Jackson ahead of this coming Sunday's showdown at M&T Bank Stadium between the two 4-1 teams.
Herbert has also been labeled a dual-threat quarterback, but he said on "The Dan Patrick Show" that Jackson is one of a kind.
"I do not have the same skill set as he does," Herbert said. "Lamar's quicker, faster, stronger. He can do it all."