No matter what happens to him or his team in the NFL playoffs, Lamar Jackson has had an incredible season for the Baltimore Ravens. Jackson has played out of his mind during the 2019-2020 season, building on the immense promise of his rookie year to bring his game to the next level. In the regular season at least, Jackson has made Baltimore the most dominant team in the league. He’s no doubt won a lot of new fans in the process.
The name of one of Jackson’s new fans may surprise you: legendary actor Al Pacino. But why exactly does this Hollywood superstar count himself among Jackson’s legions of fans?
Jackson’s path to the NFL
While everything looks great for Jackson at the moment, his path to the NFL wasn’t as easy as it may seem.
Jackson played his college football under Bobby Petrino at the University of Louisville. There, he dazzled Cardinals fans with his sheer athleticism and rocket arm. Jackson even won the Heisman Trophy, the award given to the NCAA’s top player in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
But even that honor didn’t guarantee Jackson a top draft spot.
Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, there was a lot of speculation about where Jackson would fall and to what team. Some experts were steadfast in their claim that Jackson wouldn’t succeed at the pro level as a quarterback. They claimed a switch to receiver was inevitable. Despite this, the Baltimore Ravens took the talented passer with the final pick of the 2018 first round.
Lamar Jackson did it all during the 2019 season
Jackson took over for incumbent starting quarterback Joe Flacco during the middle of last season and led the Ravens into the playoffs. They lost in the first round to the Los Angeles Chargers, but year two for Jackson has been a massive upgrade.
Take a look at the wildly impressive stats Lamar Jackson put up this season while the Ravens went 14-2 with a 12-game winning streak:
- 15 games started
- 3,127 passing yards
- 36 touchdowns
- Six interceptions
- 1,206 rushing yards
- Seven rushing touchdowns
Jackson’s win-loss record is only 13-2 because the Ravens sat him for the season’s last game. They had already clinched a number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by the final week of the regular season.
Jackson has been far and away the best player in the league this season. While others such as Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes have had fine seasons as well, it would be absolutely shocking if Jackson wasn’t named the NFL MVP based on the season he’s had.
As noted above, the Ravens have gotten a lot of attention due to Jackson’s play. But what is it about Jackson that has caught the attention of Pacino?
Al Pacino’s comments on Lamar Jackson
As an actor, Al Pacino has found a lot to like in what Jackson does. He’s even been able to relate to him and the way he plays, calling him an “inspiration.” Pacino’s comments on the young quarterback were nothing but endearing:
“I watch this guy Lamar Jackson. There are occasionally these players that are inspiring because you can see the game that they play is a game, and you can actually sense the joy they have in what they do. That’s inspiring. Watching Lamar Jackson is an inspiration to actors. Finding that pocket, finding, where is that joy that gets under you and brings you out? The freedom to let go of the conscious, and get it to the unconscious and fly like he does?”
Pacino isn’t wrong. Lamar Jackson’s joy for football is evident in the way he approaches the game. It’s a joy that won’t likely be shared by defenses playing the Ravens any time soon — at least as long as Jackson is under center.