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No More 'Festivus Maximus': Lamar Jackson's Super Bowl Mentality Is Contagious


On the night he was drafted, Lamar Jackson made his intentions perfectly clear.

"They're going to get a Super Bowl out of me," Jackson said. "Believe that. Believe that."

Jackson's emotions were running high. He was the last pick of the first round and one of the last players left in a lonely green room in Dallas' AT&T Stadium. Four quarterbacks were drafted ahead of the Heisman Trophy winner.

Since that night, Jackson hasn't stopped talking about it. Everything is about one goal: winning the Super Bowl.

One thing is for sure. The days of "Festivus Maximus" are dead.

For those who don't remember, former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick banned even saying the word "playoffs" in the build-up to the 2000 championship. The ban, reportedly backed by a $500 fine, started when the Ravens were 8-4.

Thus, the substitute phrase of "Festivus Maximus" was born. The Ravens won seven straight games to close out that regular season, the ban was lifted in Week 15, and Baltimore ran the table all the way to Super Bowl XXXV glory.

This year's Ravens matched that seven-game winning streak with a 45-6 blowout in Los Angeles on Monday Night Football. The Ravens don't have any ban, and led by Jackson, they aren't shy about stating their goals.

After Monday's game, in which he threw five touchdown passes and nearly ran for another, Jackson was (once again) asked for his thoughts about hearing "M-V-P" chanted by the crowd.

"I'm trying to win the Super Bowl," Jackson said. "That's a team award and that's what I want."

Jackson said Wednesday that the first time he thought about winning the Super Bowl was in that moment when he was drafted.

"I was sitting down, the last quarterback in my class. They believed in me – Ozzie [Newsome], Eric [DeCosta], those guys, the whole organization believe in me," Jackson said. "And that's what I'm going to bring."

Since Jackson took over as the Ravens' starter midway through last year, he's compiled a 15-3 regular-season record. He lost his first playoff appearance in last year's wild-card round.

Wide receiver Willie Snead IV said he had an "honest and direct" conversation with Jackson after that playoff loss.

"I remember what he said to me after the playoff game last year. 'I'm going to be a better passer. I'm going to be a better football player. I'm going to be a better teammate.' Everything he wanted to be better at, that's what he's doing right now. So, everybody has his back. Everybody's on his side. It's all about how far he wants to go and how far we want to take this thing," Snead said.

"I saw it in his eyes that he wanted to be that guy. He's doing it."

Jackson's teammates take notice of what Jackson says in his press conferences. How can't you? It's on replay on TVs and social media everywhere. Jackson is the hottest player in the NFL right now.

So they see his many quotes about wanting to win the Super Bowl. They know what's driving their leader.

Sitting 9-2 and with a win margin of 202-62 over the past five games – including against top teams such as the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans and Rams – it's hard not to think big.

"He brought that vision about since he got drafted," Snead said. "When you have a guy at the helm that has that vision … If the guys around him don't have that vision, we have the wrong guys in the huddle. Everybody in the huddle has that same vision. All 11 guys see the Super Bowl in our near future, and it starts with Lamar."

"To have the leader of your team doing that at a point where we're at right now as a team, I think it just shows that's how we should all be thinking too," added fullback Patrick Ricard. "We believe in ourselves. I think the amount of success we're having and Lamar is having, I think the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal and anything less is unacceptable at this point."

It would be understandable for an NFL veteran to scoff at a rookie saying he's going to deliver a Super Bowl – before he's even taken a snap in the league. But safety Earl Thomas, who was a member of the Seattle Seahawks when Jackson was drafted, saw something else.

"When you put a chip on somebody's shoulder like that, anything is possible," Thomas said. "He has his mind made up and he's backing it up."

Thomas isn't shy about the Ravens' goals either. On Wednesday, he made it clear that he expects the Ravens to be in the Super Bowl.

"When the Super Bowl comes, whoever we play, they're going to be in trouble," Thomas said.

The Ravens still have a huge game against the San Francisco 49ers, who have an even better record at 10-1, on Sunday. After that, there's still four more games.

Baltimore isn't taking its foot off the gas pedal, finding new sources for motivation each week. They know they have something special, but they know they can't be special for another couple months.

"It hasn't happened," Jackson said. "I'm chasing that goal right now."

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