Former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has accepted an invitation to be an unpaid prop in the NFL’s ultimate offseason reality show about nothing. The NFL has shown its appreciation by dabbling in the trashing of Jackson via the always-reliable unnamed sources.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media recently reported, citing an anonymous offensive coordinator, that Jackson won’t be able to throw the ball at the next level.
“He’s an awesome athlete,” the unnamed assistant coach told Pelissero, via Bleacher Report. “He will not be able to play [quarterback] in this league — mark my words. When he throws, he hopes.”
When it comes to fact, unnamed sources fuel journalism in all forms. When it comes to opinion, unnamed sources aren’t reliable, especially when it comes to the multi-dimensional game of chess, checkers, and chicken that is the draft. Without having any way to assess the reliability of the source (including but not limited to whether his team secretly likes Jackson and hopes he slides and whether the offensive coordinator is represented by a firm that represents one of the other top quarterbacks and/or other players hoping to be drafted before Jackson) there’s no way to know how the source’s agenda is affecting the opinion. And when it comes to anonymous opinions from scouts and coaches who will be drafting players regarding the players to be drafted, the source’s agenda is always an issue.
The easy reaction to this assessment is to take the anonymous opinion for what it’s worth: Nothing. But if it’s worth nothing, why is it being used? More importantly, why is it being used by the NFL, at a time when the NFL wants/needs guys like Jackson to willingly participate in its three-network draft extravaganza?
Making things worse for Jackson is that, because he doesn’t have an agent, he lacks the ability to have that agent call Pelissero or the NFL.com editor that gave the report the green light and raise hell about an opinion that is designed to influence the most impressionable of the decision-makers on draft night . . . the owners who will fall in and out of love with guys on the board in round one based in part on the things they see, hear, and read.