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Al Pacino: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson 'is an inspiration to actors’

Lamar Jackson is a sensation in Baltimore — and an inspiration in Hollywood.

The Pro Bowl quarterback has led the Ravens to the NFL’s best record heading into their Week 16 game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Over a Most Valuable Player-caliber season, Jackson has captured the attention of NFL players, fans and, now, Academy Award-winning actors.

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In an oral history by The Ringer about director Oliver Stone’s 1999 football drama, “Any Given Sunday,” former NFL tight end Jamie Williams, a technical consultant on the film, said the character of quarterback Willie Beamen “helped open the door” for quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick and Jackson.

Actor Jamie Foxx played Beamen, a third-string quarterback who had been denied opportunities to play the position because of his “fast feet.” Beamen eventually becomes the team’s starter after injuries to the first- and second-string quarterbacks.

“I watch this guy Lamar Jackson,” Academy Award-winning actor Al Pacino, who starred as coach Anthony “Tony” D’Amato, told The Ringer. “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?

“With Willie Beamen, he was put in the background. Lamar was waiting behind Flacco, and I don’t see how he got overlooked. What Lamar’s doing was always there. You can clearly see it. Then you watch how he throws with such accuracy. He seems so comfortable throwing a football, like he’s been doing it all his life.”

Pacino, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the 1992 drama “Scent of Woman,” made his film debut at age 29. Jackson could win his first MVP at age 23.

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