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Ravens QB Lamar Jackson says he’ll be on ‘Madden’ cover, addresses interactions with Trump and Antonio Brown

Ravens Lamar Jackson announced that he was chosen to be on the next 'Madden' cover. He said he isn't afraid of the Madden cover jinks.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson captured the imagination of football fans across the world last season on his way to winning NFL Most Valuable Player honors.

On Tuesday, Jackson announced he’ll be the cover athlete for the next edition of the video game that fueled his childhood imagination. He said he’ll be the face of “Madden NFL 21.”

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

A spokesman for Electronic Arts Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ray Lewis in 2005 was the only previous Raven to grace a “Madden” cover.

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With Jackson unable to continue his usual offseason workouts in Florida because of the coronavirus pandemic, the “Madden” news was the biggest he made during a 26-minute Zoom session with reporters. He had not held a news conference with Baltimore media members since Jan. 11, when the Ravens fell to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

Jackson touched on a few points of recent controversy.

Yes, he really did appreciate the Twitter post in which President Donald Trump referred to him as “a great pick.”

No, he did not view his “Truzz Trump” response as a political statement.

“I don’t know why it got blown up like that,” he said.

Yes, he would like the Ravens to sign Antonio Brown, the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with whom he worked out this offseason.

No, he does not plan to pressure the team’s front office to pursue the controversial star, who’s facing off-field legal troubles and an NFL investigation.

“I’d be happy if they signed him,” he said. “He’s a great player. He showed it each and every year he was with the Steelers in the past. But you know, it’s not my decision.”

Jackson said pandemic-related restrictions have halted his outdoor workouts in Florida. He’s stuck with Pilates to stay in shape. But he added that because he’s a natural home body, social distancing has not bothered him.

“I have energy for football,” he said, speaking from the Airbnb in Florida where he’s staying. “Everything else, I’m kind of laid back.”

He hasn’t even watched “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary that brought sports Twitter to life Sunday night.

But Jackson is optimistic that NFL games will be played this year.

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“The world needs football,” he said. “I think we’ll be playing football this year. So I’m not going to put that in my mind.”

He acknowledged how hard it is to imagine the possibility of NFL games without fans. “I really don’t see that happening,” he said. “I’ve never really played football without people watching.”

Jackson did not offer much of a wish list when asked about the NFL Draft, scheduled to run Thursday to Saturday. But he did point to the hole left by the retirement of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda.

“We need a replacement for Marshal,” he said. “Marshal was that guy, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. So we need a guy for him.”

As for his draft-night plans, might make an appearance at the party for Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, a fellow Florida native and projected first-round pick.

Jackson still feels haunted by the playoff upset that abruptly ended one of the greatest seasons in Ravens history. He loathes the 0-2 postseason record that hangs as the only real blemish on his brilliant career.

“I’ve got to win me a playoff game before anything, because I’m tired of that already,” he said. “Once I’m tired of something, I’ve got to make it happen.”

He gave his usual answer when asked which skill he most wants to improve: all of them.

“I feel like we need to hit a lot more deep passes than we did last year,” he said. “But the quarantine is slowing down everything right now. I can’t get with my guys to work on timing out routes and stuff like that.”

He’s concerned about the possible cancellation of offseason workouts, which are particularly valuable to a quarterback as he gets used to the new players around him. He’d also hoped to gather teammates for offseason film sessions, which have been put on hold by the pandemic.

One story he’s not worried about is the supposed curse attached to NFL stars who appear on the cover of “Madden.” As Jackson noted, Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes just won Super Bowl MVP honors after appearing on “Madden NFL 20.”

“I’d love to follow that path right there,” he said, laughing.

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