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Lamar Jackson is facing an unfair backlash from everywhere, but he's not doing himself any favors with a blatant move.

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Lamar Jackson was beaten by NFL connoisseurs from day one and still has detractors despite his success. In the same way that Cam Newton was never going to appease no small number of people for various reasons, it seems that Jackson met a similar fate.

He did things his own way, in an unorthodox way, and it worked very well in the early years of his professional career. He doesn’t want to do things the way they’ve always been done, and connoisseurs don’t like that.

Last week Jackson offered its first update about the condition of his injured left knee, the one that has kept him out for the last few weeks of the Ravens’ season, including the team’s AFC wild card loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

Jackson wrote that he had a Grade 2 PCL sprain, “on the verge of a [Grade] 3” and that he was still dealing with swelling and instability. The PCL is one of the main stabilizers of the knee joints; a Grade 2 sprain is a partial tear and a Grade 3 sprain is a complete tear.

On the field, Lamar is not Lamar without two good knees.

Off the field, he has no contract for the 2023 season and beyond, an issue that has been in the headlines all season.

Lamar Jackson's last game of the 2022 season was on December 4th.  (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

Lamar Jackson’s last game of the 2022 season was on December 4th. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

Fans are fans, so you’d expect a Twitter search for “Lamar has given up” there would appear many missives from those who say that Jackson should put his health, well-being and financial future at risk with no guaranteed money if things go wrong. But it wasn’t just fans who criticized Jackson. At the Fox Sports Pre-Game ShowSean Payton was uncomfortably belittling Jackson, telling the quarterback, “the team is more important than you”.

Michael Vick echoed Payton as a parrot and said, “put an armband on, go ahead. Put an armband on, let’s go.”

Outsiders will always have their opinions, and many still refuse to consider professional athletes as human beings because some of them earn extra large salaries, but that call came from within. This is dirty work.

If we wanted our inner Petty Betty to run wild, here’s where we’d like to remind you that Payton was suspended an entire season for turning a blind eye to the bounty program of one of her New Orleans assistants (that former NFL player Junior Galette pointed out sharply) and that Vick derailed her meteoric rise with categorically stupid decisions. But that would be insignificant, right?

Oops.

Payton, who stepped down as head coach last year because he said he wasn’t where his heart was, appears to be following the well-worn path Jon Gruden once trod, teasing that he’ll leave his cushy broadcast gig to be a franchise savior – only if the price and situation are right, of course. However, he refused to acknowledge that perhaps Jackson is doing the same thing and looking out for his best interests, both his current and future earning potential and his current and future physical and emotional health. Jackson wants to be paid and, we assume, able to walk on his own in 40 years. Payton wants to be celebrated. It’s paid.

Let’s say Jackson played against the Bengals. He put in a key, as Vick so gleefully opined, and started the game. Dr. Jess Flynn, a Boston sports medicine physician, told Yahoo Sports that Jackson risked tearing the meniscus or cartilage in his knee; these tears often require surgery, and some cartilage damage can be a lifelong problem, Flynn said.

Let’s just say the worst happened. If Jackson had soaked it up like they wanted and played poorly, Payton and Vick would probably have been the first to look down on his performance. And would they have offered to make up the difference in any money Jackson lost in his contract? Of course not.

It would have been Robert Griffin III all over again, a talented quarterback hurting his long-term career by filling the team’s immediate need. Griffin posted so much on Twitter in defense of Jackson. Playing injured for his “brothers/team…changed the trajectory of my career,” Griffin tweeted.

The inimitable reporter Jim Trotter recently said on the NFL Network that after a game in December, a player from a different team approached him and, without being prompted, mentioned Jackson’s injury. That player told Trotter that he suffered a PCL sprain in Week 1 and months later he still wasn’t 100 percent.

Lamar Jackson Isn’t Using an Agent and It’s Hurting Him

A complicating factor in all of this is that Jackson doesn’t have an agent. He really, truth should have one. Representing yourself — or working together with a family member, as Jackson does — is fine to a degree, as rookie contracts are split and mostly standard. But the point at which Jackson should have caved and hired an agent has passed.

An agent tells the player’s side through the media, so when Jackson was injured in December, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh told reporters it was “week to week,” thus setting an expectation that it was a game situation. By game, an agent reportedly backed Harbaugh and said it was at least a four-week schedule, which is in line with the average recovery from an PCL injury like Jackson’s.

An agent reportedly handled the team, backing out on the client’s behalf to ensure Jackson didn’t return any time soon, a move that usually benefits the team over the player.

An agent also has the arguments on the negotiating table so the player doesn’t have to have them, and when a deal is struck, any lingering resentment is primarily between the organization and the agent, not the player.

Jackson and the Ravens messed this up, and it looks like it’s getting worse. Not just because Jackson doesn’t have an agent, but because he’s online a lot, and every cryptic message and public response to a troll has amateur sleuths trying to figure out what it “really” means.

Also because many of Harbaugh’s public comments don’t sound like someone who is eager to welcome back a franchise quarterback who turned 26 earlier this month and already has an MVP under his belt, as if that type of player could easily be replicated. .

And because Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti doesn’t want fully guaranteed five-year contracts, like the one Cleveland did with Deshaun Watson, to become the standard.

And because everyone has an opinion, many of them supporting the old-fashioned NFL status quo: who cares about tomorrow, take a shot and play today. You don’t matter, go there for the team.

All of this ignores the cold truth: the team is a business and will ruthlessly cut a player the minute it thinks it’s best for the business and the bottom line, no matter how many injuries he has suffered.

Lamar is also a business. He knows this and acts accordingly.

But his next step, as he continues to rehabilitate his knee, should be getting someone to do his dirty work for him.

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