Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey is the hero — or villain? — the NFL desperately needs

Columnist
Yahoo Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is in the latest issue of GQ, ripping half the quarterbacks in the NFL.

Baltimore’s Joe Flacco? “Sucks.” Atlanta’s Matt Ryan? “Overrated.” Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger? “Decent at best.” The New York Giants’ Eli Manning? “I won’t say Eli’s good.” Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck? “I don’t really think he’s that good.” Buffalo rookie Josh Allen? “Trash.”

Oh, man, is this great. No, it’s not sportsmanlike. No, it’s not polite. No, it’s not nice.

In the puritanical, distraction-loathing world of football, this is considered a sin. It’s better to say nothing and let the head coach mumble out the team’s message. “One voice,” or something like that.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is all about speaking his mind. (Getty)
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is all about speaking his mind. (Getty)

Yeah, well, this is also the NFL, and the NFL is based on entertainment. It takes a village of personalities (sometimes of the idiot variety, even) to make things work. Ramsey is no idiot. At just 23 years old, the Florida State product is already one of the league’s finest lockdown corners. If he hadn’t already inherited the longstanding role of biggest trash talker in the league, he certainly owns it now. On purpose.

Sports need spice. Sports need rivalries. Sports need conflict.

The NFL needs Jalen Ramsey, even if he is currently suspended for trying to intimidate a reporter who filmed a player fight during a Jaguars practice, which is exactly what the reporter’s job calls on him to do. OK, maybe that was idiotic. No one said Jalen Ramsey was perfect.

The NFL is at its best when the hate is real. Ramsey doesn’t appear to hate any of the people he ripped in GQ, or any other time during his career, but they might now hate him back.

Put it this way, Jacksonville visits Buffalo in Week 12, a game that wouldn’t normally get anyone excited. If Allen is the Bills’ starting quarterback though?

Jalen Ramsey offered his candid opinions on a good number of the league’s quarterbacks in an interview with GQ, including Bills first-round pick Josh Allen. (AP)
Jalen Ramsey offered his candid opinions on a good number of the league’s quarterbacks in an interview with GQ, including Bills first-round pick Josh Allen. (AP)

“I think Allen is trash,” Ramsey said. “I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show, too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me. We play them this year, and I’m excited as hell. I hope he’s their starting quarterback.

“He played at Wyoming,” Ramsey continued. “Every time they played a big school — like, they played Iowa State, which is not a big school in my opinion because I went to Florida State. And he threw five interceptions, and they lost by a couple touchdowns or something like that.”

Wyoming actually played Iowa, lost 24-3 and Allen threw two interceptions, but you might as well insult Iowa State, too, while you’re at it?

“He never beat a big school,” Ramsey said. “If you look at his games against big schools, it was always hella interceptions, hella turnovers. It’s like, ‘Yo, if you’re this good, why couldn’t you do better?’ He fits that mold, he’s a big, tall quarterback. Big arm, supposedly. I don’t see it, personally.”

Yeah, Jags-Bills is now a game to watch. Either to see Allen make Ramsey eat his words, or have Ramsey back it all up.

This is trash talk, but it’s straight-up. Ramsey will have to face these guys. He’ll have to answer for what he said. Each and every quarterback in the league that he buried (and will bury) will have a chance to prepare and respond, either verbally or on the field.

That makes for a better product. That makes for some intrigue. That’s the villain (or hero) the league needs. Lots of weak pabulum and “one-game-at-a-time” interviews aren’t going to help television ratings. Why would any fan want players to be less honest about what they think? Who out there is seeking fewer true opinions?

If his coaches and teammates don’t appreciate him firing up opponents, well, that might be fair. They can deliver that message to him. Ramsey tends to deliver on the field though. Here’s guessing 31 other locker rooms would take him, no matter what he just said about their QBs.

It’s not like Ramsey doesn’t give credit where he feels its due. Not everyone is terrible. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and a few others are spared a spearing, although, really, what else was he going to say about them? He likes Marcus Mariota and Tyrod Taylor (interesting). There’s plenty of respect for Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz, whom he thinks will contend for MVPs over the next decade.

He’s wait and see on Jimmy Garoppolo. The Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff? “He’s average to above average.” Dallas’ Dak Prescott is “OK,” although he puts more credit on Ezekiel Elliott.

And, yes, he was even willing to address his own QB, Blake Bortles.

“Playoff Blake is good,” Ramsey said, which was certainly true last season when the Jags advanced to the AFC title game. “People can say whatever, but playoff Blake is good.”

Ramsey sounded like the loudest guy at your fantasy football draft, three beers and two orders of wings into the night. He might as well have called into sports talk radio. If you ever really want to know what NFL players think of each other, what defensive backs really talk about when kicking around the locker room, well, here you go.

That’s a good thing, an interesting thing. Ramsey is on record predicting Allen (the seventh overall pick) will be a colossal bust and Lamar Jackson (the 32nd overall pick) will be a star.

Is he right? We’ll see. Maybe as soon as Week 12. No matter what, Jalen Ramsey will answer for his predictions and the NFL is a more fun place because of it.

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