Once rookie NFL players are comfortable with their newfound stardom and on-field roles, they often give back to fans and the community via charity work or financial support. It takes a special kind of rookie to give back right out of the gate. And it takes even more self-awareness to establish a charity that tackles a niche cause. Take Lamar Jackson and his Era 8 clothing line for example.
Lamar Jackson’s football career
Is it really fair to call Jackson a rookie though? This will be his third year in the league, and even though he’s had a relatively short career, it’s been filled with some pretty incredible accomplishments so far.
Jackson played college ball at the University of Louisville under head coach Bobby Petrino. In 2016, in only his sophomore season, the young quarterback was named Heisman Trophy winner. Across a three-year collegiate career, he managed over 9,000 passing yards with 69 touchdowns.
At the end of his junior year, in which he was named third runner-up for the Heisman once again, Jackson declared his eligibility for the 2018 NFL draft, where he was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round at the 32nd overall pick.
Originally intended as a backup to Joe Flacco, Jackson found himself thrust into the limelight in the middle of his rookie year when Flacco went on injured reserve midseason. Jackson went on to lead the Ravens to the playoffs despite his lack of professional experience.
The following season, in 2019, Jackson came into his own as an NFL quarterback. In the offseason, the Ravens scrapped their existing offense and built a new one from the ground up centered on Jackson’s skill set. After a series of impressive wins, including staggering passing yardage, the Ravens were ultimately shut down in the first round of the playoffs but not before Jackson cemented himself as the 2019 MVP.
Jackson’s Era 8 Apparel
It takes heightened on-field awareness to be a good quarterback. Despite commentary from a handful of critics, if the rest of his career is anything like his 2018 season, Jackson looks to have that sense of awareness in spades. What makes Jackson such a special young player is that his awareness extends to his personal life as well.
Right out of the gate he embraced a level of wisdom that takes some players years to develop; he immediately diversified his income stream by starting his very own apparel company called Era 8 Apparel. The line of custom-designed clothing includes hoodies, t-shirts, letterman jackets, bubble jackets, and even COVID-19-themed face masks.
Each item is a blend of athletic styling and bright, colorful patterns. According to USA Today, the T-shirts feature some of Jackson’s famous quotes like “Not bad for a running back,” and “Nobody cares; work harder.” Era 8 Apparel’s main logo, however, features the distinctive yet stylized African wild dog graphic.
Giving back to his inspiration
Era 8 isn’t just about the clothes; it’s also about giving to a good cause, according to the Ravens’ website. That’s why proceeds from every sale go toward foundations that help monitor and protect the species. Why the African wild dog though?
Jackson’s answer is simple, honest, and refreshing, according to Penn Live. “I look at myself like I’m wildlife — you know, we’re on the field, we’re doing anything that’s possible to win the game.” However, a genuine curiosity arose from that raw emotion, leading the young star to learn more about the plight of the endangered species.
Now, this hyper-athletic young quarterback with a gift for in-game awareness is using his fame, and good fashion sense, to raise awareness for a kindred spirit in need.