- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2020

There’s no debating Lamar Jackson has stayed busy this offseason.

Since being named the unanimous 2019 NFL MVP back on Feb. 1, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback has worked out with Antonio Brown, earned Twitter praise from President Trump and agreed to be the cover athlete for “Madden 21.”

On a video conference call Tuesday, Jackson was asked about a report that called him the front-runner for the “Madden” cover. So he broke his own news.

“They talked to me. I should be on the cover athlete of ‘Madden,’” Jackson said.

Jackson doesn’t fear the so-called “Madden curse,” in which players featured on the video game’s cover suffer either an injury or surprisingly poor play the following season. He pointed out that last year’s cover athlete, Patrick Mahomes, had a great season that ended with him winning Super Bowl MVP.

“It’s always been a dream of mine, since I was a little kid, since I first started playing ‘Madden,’” Jackson said. “It’s dope. I had every ‘Madden’ so for me to be on the front of it, that’s a dream come true.”

Jackson will be the second Ravens player to make the cover of the NFL’s only officially-licensed video game, after Ray Lewis graced “Madden 05.”

Jackson also addressed his Twitter interaction with Mr. Trump Saturday, which some took as an endorsement of the president. Mr. Trump had quote-tweeted Jackson sharing a video of his college teammate Jaire Alexander celebrating Jackson being drafted in 2018, and wrote, “Really nice to see this and, what a great pick!”

The quarterback wrote back “Truzz Trump” — using a new spelling of “truss,” the slang word that became something of a motto for the Ravens last season.

Some NFL players, including Ravens teammates, appeared to question Jackson for the tweet. But Jackson said he simply appreciated the president’s message and was surprised his reply blew up the way it did.

“I wasn’t making no political statements or anything like that,” he added. “Like I said, I agree on what he was saying about me and my teammate, that’s all.”

As for the spelling change from “truss” to “truzz,” Jackson claimed someone attempted to sue him over use of the word once he and the Ravens made it popular. He pivoted to the “truzz” spelling and said he even copyrighted the term.

The quarterback called in from an Airbnb room in Florida, his home state, where he is staying during the coronavirus pandemic. While most U.S. sports leagues are on hold, the NFL will hold its draft this week and reportedly will release its 2020 season schedule in May, though whether football season will start on time is up in the air.

Jackson believed there will be a season, saying “the world needs football,” and didn’t think much of the idea of the NFL and other sports leagues playing in empty stadiums to prevent possible spread of the virus in the stands.

“I really don’t see that happening,” he said. “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve never played football without people watching.”

Jackson, Antonio Brown and Ravens receiver Hollywood Brown — Antonio’s cousin — caught some flak for working out together in Florida on April 1 and not observing social distancing. But Jackson said he has been social distancing and following safety measures since then.

That workout gave many Ravens fans the idea that Baltimore could pursue the embattled Brown, a free agent who had a tumultuous 2019 and was arrested in early 2020 on charges of alleged battery and criminal mischief. Brown recently hired a new agent and said he wanted to return to the NFL, despite previous statements saying he was through with the league.

“I’d be happy if (the Ravens) signed him,” Jackson said. “You know he showed up each and every year. He was with the Steelers in the past. But you know, it’s not my decision.”

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