Trevor Lawrence enters the NFL without a chip on his shoulder or an unhealthy, maniacal obsession with seizing upon (and, if necessary, conjuring out of thin air) disses or slights or whispers or insults that will give him even more motivation. In time, that could come. For now, it’s not there.
On Monday morning, Simms and I unpacked and repacked Lawrence’s initial comments to SI.com and his weekend elaboration on Twitter. At one level, Lawrence doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder because he has yet to have a reason to acquire one. Lawrence have lived a charmed football life, winning a national championship as a freshman and returning to the national championship as a sophomore and getting to the semifinal game as a junior. Unlike Tom Brady, whose Scouting Combine boxer-shorts photo and his performance during the workouts would suggest he didn’t enter the 2000 draft with much of a chip on his shoulder but who immediately acquired one after plunging to pick No. 199, Lawrence has been the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft since we first witnessed the phenomenon in 2018.
At another level, enough has happened to trigger for Lawrence the kind of torment that would translate to a chip on the shoulder. He never won the Heisman Trophy, and he lost his last two games on the biggest stage in college football — the national title game in 2019 and the national semifinal game in 2020. Some would still be losing sleep over the loss to Ohio State and Justin Fields. Some would be champing at the bit to get back on the field and show that his last college game was an aberration.
None of this should be regarded as passing judgment. Lawrence’s way is healthy. It’s grounded. Life isn’t about only football. Football players and coaches should have other interests.
But then there are the ones who are obsessed. The ones with an unhealthy drive to be more than just good or great enough. To never (or at least rarely) have to shrug after a loss and say, “It wasn’t meant to be” or “you can’t win ’em all.”
Lawrence eventually could become obsessed, in an unhealthy way. He could realize, as many who are new to a specific profession do, that becoming the best requires certain sacrifices, commitments, and choices. With 24 hours in each day to devote to everything a human can do, some humans decide to spend way too much time on one thing, with the goal of having that time spent make them the best there is at that one thing.
Whether Lawrence becomes that way remains to be seen. Guys at 21 or 22 have a much different mindset than they’ll have at 25 or 26 or 30 or 35. In time, he may pivot to obsession. In time, he may decide that his way is indeed the right way — possibly because he has the talent to thrive even without throwing his life out of whack to get the most out of his skills.
Quarterbacks also become a product of their environment. How hard will Lawrence be coached by Urban Meyer and his staff? That will be a factor. Bill Belichick coached Tom Brady long enough and hard enough to eventually kill the relationship. Decades earlier, Chuck Noll did that with the original TB12, Terry Bradshaw.
Will Meyer push Lawrence? Will Meyer push Lawrence so hard that he realizes that, to be truly great, he needs to do more than he thought he needed to do? An epiphany could come, whether it’s from Meyer or from another coach. It also could come from carefully studying what another quarterback does, day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out.
All we know is where Lawrence currently is, not where he’ll eventually be. Currently, he’s in a good, healthy place. Eventually, he could be as over-the-top driven like Brady or Michael Jordan or anyone else who have thrown their priorities out of whack in the name of winning and winning and winning some more.