What Mink Thinks: Summer Fun Brings Out the Over-Protective Media and Fans

via @aj_chavez11

We've hit that point in the summer when the NFL news cycle runs dry. It unfortunately coincides with the time that players go on vacation.

Thus, it brings all the over-protective media and fans out to the school yard. They're like the mom hovering around the playground waiting to tell their kid they're climbing too high.

Last year, it was Lamar Jackson and the jet ski. ESPN reported that Jackson "collided" with the jet ski during a game of beach football when he clearly jumped over it. It went as far as to quote an unnamed source who said Jackson was not injured.

This year, it's Jackson playing some pickup football with kids on a basketball court at his annual "Fun Day with LJ" event in his native South Florida. It's literally called a "Fun Day" and some people are getting bent out of shape about it.

"There's simply no reason to take that risk while on the brink of signing a life-changing contract with the Ravens," Pro Football Talk wrote. "A broken ankle, torn ACL, ruptured Achilles' tendon, or other similar injury would end those talks, immediately."

"While Jackson does not have to worry about getting beat by some college kids, he should worry about injuries," the New York Post wrote. "The 2019 MVP was playing on a cement basketball court. One slip, one fall or just one bad step could have been bad news for the quarterback.

"Jackson just needs to find a less risky way to channel all that incredible energy," added Yahoo! Sports. "Fans can still be involved, but only if he's sitting in a lawn chair."

On second thought, this doesn't actually seem to be a case of people being worried for Jackson.

This reaction more seems to be a case of people being worried about their entertainment being lost and/or feeling like they have the authority to tell a grown man and professional athlete – a bona fide human being, believe it or not! – how they should spend their free time.

Actually, this isn't a mom situation. A mom does have say over the safety of their child. Fans and media members do not have the same over an NFL player. It's also Jackson's (pending) money. If an injury impacts his contract extension, that's for him to worry about.

It's also odd that people love when players practice football during the offseason, but somehow it's only dangerous when making the same moves just for fun. The tendons and ligaments know the difference?

There are cases of NFL players getting seriously injured during offseason activities – and those few instances will be pointed to every single time. Ravens fans know it well from 2012 when Terrell Suggs reportedly tore his Achilles playing offseason basketball.

Yes, athletes can get injured in their spare time, walking to the kitchen even. No, this doesn't mean you get to put them in bubble wrap.

We're not talking about Jackson going bull riding. He's running some routes and locking up some kids playing cornerback. I don't know the risk percentage here, but I think we can classify it as low. Regardless, a player gets to decide where to draw that line, including in their contract.

Remember, these guys do play football for a living. I'm fairly sure Jackson has been in more danger on Sundays in M&T Bank Stadium (where he also gets criticized for playing the game too dangerously) than he has on a beach or basketball court.

Sure, playing football is Jackson's full-time job whereas running around with kids is not. But don't we also want our favorite players to have this kind of genuine relationship with young fans? Think of the memories Jackson made for all those kids and perhaps you'll think whatever "risk" he took was actually commendable instead of fodder for disdain.

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