Ravens veterans arrive to Under Armour Performance Center to start camp.
In his first media availability since reporting for training camp, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said that he spoke to team officials about free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown after their April workout.
Jackson was seen throwing passes to the 32-year-old receiver in Florida, along with Brown’s cousin, Ravens wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. The workout fueled more speculation that the team might be interested in bringing in the former Pittsburgh Steelers star.
Antonio hasn’t played since Week 2 of the 2019 season as he continues to be investigated by the NFL for off-the-field issues. The Oakland Raiders voided his guaranteed money after he missed nearly all of training camp last year. The Raiders cut him in September after he demanded to be released. After signing with the New England Patriots, he was named in a lawsuit by a former trainer, who alleged that he sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. Days later, another woman accused him of sexual misconduct. The Patriots released him after one game.
“Around us, he was a great guy,” Jackson said Wednesday. “You don’t really see anything going on at all. He’s a cool, down-to-earth guy. He’s passionate about the sport of football.
“That’s the type of guy we need in our locker room. I feel like the locker room here is different from any other locker room. It’s a brotherhood going on. None of that outside noise, it’s strictly inside. We worry about each other, we worry about what we have going on. We want to win, and I can tell in him he wants to win. He wants to play ball.”
While Jackson said that he spoke to team officials about Antonio Brown, it’s unclear whether he also vouched for the team to sign Brown. “They’ve seen the [workout] videos and stuff like that too, and they asked me and I told them the same response I just told you guys,” Jackson said.
Weeks after the workout, Jackson said that he would be “happy” if the team signed Antonio Brown and called him a “great player.”
“It was nice throwing to Antonio Brown,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I was hoping we would get him. I’m still hoping, a little bit.”
According to a June NFL Network report, the Ravens have had internal discussions about signing Brown. In recent months, team officials have been tight-lipped about any interest — or disinterest — in the wide receiver. Coaches have spoken glowingly of a potential breakout season for Marquise Brown, as well as fellow second-year player Miles Boykin. The team also expects rookie wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche to contribute.
“We’re always assessing the players out there on the streets,” general manager Eric DeCosta told Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio in April. “We’re looking at guys. We’re making decisions that we think are best for the club. If we think there’s a guy out there who fits us, who’s got the skill set to provide value, we’ll certainly pounce on that type of guy. As [former Ravens general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] always used to tell me, we don’t play games until September. So we’ve got a lot of time to build the best team we can build, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Jackson voices support for protests against racial inequality
According to a Yahoo Sports report, Jackson was one of the multiple stars who agreed to participate in a video calling on commissioner Roger Goodell to embrace peaceful protests from players against racial injustice and police brutality.
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While Jackson ultimately didn’t submit a video, he said that he supports all the protests that have taken place across the country for the past two months.
“It’s very important,” Jackson said. “I feel like we should be protected by the police instead of being scared of them. When things happen, we should be able to call on those guys and feel safe and not [feel] like we’ll get harmed.”
Jackson said that he wanted to participate in the various demonstrations, but decided against it to prevent possibly contracting COVID-19.
A day after the video — featuring stars such as Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson — was released, Goodell released a video of his own, saying that the league was wrong in its initial stance on player protests and declaring that “Black lives matter.”
The league in June announced that it would commit $250 million over a 10-year period to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans.”