By Reginald Williams,
Special to the AFRO
Lamar Jackson has silenced the chatter of naysayers who suggested that he was out of his league with the signing of a $260 million five-year extension with the Baltimore Ravens.
Jackson’s historic new contract makes the Pompano Beach, Fla., native the highest-paid player in the history of the National Football League (NFL). The agreement dispels all the condescending detractors who spoke unfavorably about Jackson negotiating his deal without an agent.
“They talked about that man like a dog,” explained Marcus Jackson, Ed.D., an educator, author and avid Ravens fan. “Lamar did it his way and is pocketing an agent’s fee.”
Jackson was pick number 32 in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, and was heavily criticized by journalists and sports analysts because he decided to serve as his agent.
For decades the NFL didn’t believe a Black person possessed the intellectual capacity to play quarterback, much less orchestrate a quarter-billion-dollar business deal. Jackson pushed back against the tendency in America to cause Black men to question their greatness.
The White male’s view of Jackson choosing to “do it his way” is symptomatic of the way Black athletes are viewed behind closed doors. The belief that a dynamic Black athlete who wears his hair in plaits and speaks with the tone of a Florida rapper can’t advocate for himself isn’t much different from mindsets that insisted that Blacks could not play quarterback.
Despite the doubters, Jackson stood in the pocket and remained resolved despite the critical onslaught.
In March, the University of Louisville graduate refused to sign a non-exclusive, one-year deal for $32.4 million offered by the Ravens. A contract with an exclusive franchise tag would have paid an additional $13 million. Under a non-exclusive offer, he could have negotiated with any team. Under an exclusive tag, no other team could approach him.
Not willing to sign any of the Raven offers, the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Most Valuable Player in the 2019 season requested a trade.
“LJ is statistically one of the best quarterbacks ever. He’s won almost 75 percent of the games he’s played. It was disrespectful to place a non-exclusive franchise tag on potentially the league’s most exciting QB,” Darius Williams, a diehard Ravens fan, said.
Instead of the $32.4 million (non-exclusive) or $45 million (exclusive) offers, Jackson’s new contract pays him $52 million over the first two years; $185 million of the five-year deal is guaranteed. The efforts of Jackson’s mom, Felicia Jones, whom Jackson has said is his manager, were instrumental in helping him save almost $8 million in agent’s fees.
“Lamar Jackson is bucking the trend. He has not had an agent since he entered the league,” explains Hekima Wallace Qualls, former sports reporter for DC’s The Sports Groove with Mark Gray. “The situation with the Ravens not signing Lamar right away gives the perception that teams don’t like the idea of his mom negotiating the deal versus an agent from the boys’ club. If you have the ability to keep the money in the family, why not take it?”
The mainstream media analysts denounced Jones, claiming she did not possess the proficiency to broker such a complex deal.
“I’ve read some of the articles stating that she is in over her head or not qualified to handle this level of talent,” explained Qualls.
Jones was instrumental in orchestrating Jackson’s rookie contract.
The current contract stalemate between Jackson and the Ravens lasted more than a year. But ten days before Jackson secured his money, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, a Super Bowl winner who is represented by agent Nicole Lynn, who is Black, signed a $255 million, five-year deal that provided the blueprint for Jackson and Jones.
Lynn and Jones set a precedent for Black women in a society that pays Black women 64 cents on every dollar paid to non-Hispanic White men.
“I’m ecstatic over the accomplishments of both Nicole Lynn, and Felicia Jones. In this current social and political climate where there is a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, detractors of these policies are quick to insinuate that people from underrepresented communities are somehow in positions or receiving work that they are not otherwise qualified to have,” explained Qualls. “As a Black woman, I know the old adage that you have to work twice as hard and be twice as good still stands true to form, and I’m sure both these women know and understand it as well.”
Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email email@example.com or visit amvonlinestore.com for more information.