Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close

Despite all the domestic violence cases, despite all the unfortunate drug abuse, despite the fight to combat the concussions in the sport, and despite all the kneeling protests supposedly plaguing the league, what remains high on the dossier is the NFL trying clean up its sport when it comes to trash-talking. Other blemishes are allowed to run free under the brow of the NFL but, the line has been drawn on trash talking. So when Jalen Ramsey, an All-Pro cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars sits down with GQ for an interview and calls out almost every player that plays the most decorated position of the sport, quarterback, it is naturally met with criticism.

If you are a loyal follower of the sport's doctrine, it will have you believe that you have to be of a special elk before you have the right to trash talk another player. If that’s the case then Ramsey is definitely worth his every word of his candid assessments – putting it lightly. Truth be told, Ramsey dragged the spotlight onto the ever-peripheral Jacksonville Jaguars well before they were notoriously dubbed ‘Sacksonville’ last season. He was selected fifth in 2016 NFL Draft by Jacksonville, and since then has presented himself as the antithesis to all prized wide receivers around the league. Never shy to speak his mind, the All-Pro cornerback heads into his third season with a much more carnivorous bark and bite from the season prior.

Last year, in his usual braggadocios way, Ramsey announced that his team would win the Super Bowl, and looked good for his money until his team choked a lead to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Although the world laughed at his false proclamations, it has not dulled his sharp tongue. His standout edge doesn’t just come from his great defensive talent, but from his clairvoyance that brings to light your deepest and most hidden insecurities.

"Every year is Super Bowl or bust, really. If you ain't shooting for the Super Bowl... I mean, I guess if you're the Browns, you're shooting for a win. Or a few wins, at least"

Jalen Ramsey on his Super Bowl announcement from Interview with GQ

Quarterbacks around the league are well aware of Ramsey’s talent, and it shows when they tend not to throw the ball towards his proximity. Its as though a large section of the field has been closed off, with a giant sign that says, "Keep off the Grass!", stomped into the ground. It’s an inescapable island for the receiver to be stranded on, an island akin to Darrell Revis's famed 'Revis Island'. Ramsey's job on the field might not see the most action because of the quarterback's apprehension; thus, he will create the action for himself. It is in the minds of the receivers - that dare line up across him - where Ramsey loves to frolic, and not everybody seems to like that, just ask Bengals receiver, AJ Green, who got into a bout of fisticuffs with the cornerback last season.

In his rookie season, Ramsey - although his team was irrelevant at this point in his premature NFL career - still drove the needle of the conversation by discrediting a legend wide receiver, Steve Smith Jnr, by calling him an “old man”. A rookie talking ill of a soon-to-be Hall of Famer is unheard of, but for Ramsey, he was slowly building up his empire.

The tenacious, yet savvy cornerback has figured out the formula on how to bring the worse out of his opponents around the league. Wide receivers make their money off catching balls, but what happens when they aren’t allowed to catch balls for large chunks of the game? Ramsey’s brawl with AJ Green holds credence to his formula. For the first half of that week 9 matchup, Ramsey buzzed around Green like an annoying mosquito, and despite Green’s best attempts at trying to swat him away, Ramsey on many occasions managed to swipe blood for sustenance.

Ramsey isn’t barbaric in his approach. He is meticulous with his trash talking. In fact, his trash-talking isn't directionless and can even be backed by the use of statistics. Referring back to his bout with Green, it didn’t take much to bring out a reaction from the Bengals receiver. Ramsey continued to repeatedly call Green “soft” and a “punk”, and 20 seconds before half-time, after another wave of provocation, Green snapped and choked his oppressor to the ground. Both were ejected from the game, though it was another example of Ramsey living rent-free in another receiver’s head. It is worth noting that before AJ Green was ejected from the said game, he had managed only one catch for six yards. I call this the Ramsey effect.

Ramsey has brought back the showmanship to the defensive position, which has not been seen, in its gaudy lights, since Deion Sanders used to high-step his way into the end zone after returning yet another interception.

NFL players are usually the loudest players on the planet on Sundays. Whether it is on the sidelines or in the thick of the scrimmages, the whole stadium is laced with an abundance of curse words, trash talk, and collisions loud enough to shake the foundations in heaven. Yet, there are few that actually keep that same energy and carry that zealous attitude off-the-field when confronted by the media waving recording devices in front of them. Their answers are usually what you expect; sensible, vaguely optimistic, and exuding the efficacy of their media training.

Though, Ramsey is of a rare commodity that actually keeps the same energy. No one is free from his trash talk, and he, who holds few in reverence, will even besmirch his own quarterback. It fuels him to stay on top of his game – his sword shall never dull – and puts his victims in a place of discomfort.

I suppose some of the criticisms that Ramsey faces can be seen as warranted. One of the cardinal rules in an NFL team is to keep house affairs out of the media’s reach. However, his spicy talk is somewhat without boundaries, thus, on occasion, he has often spoken brutally honest about his own team.

Yeah, he talks extremely loud, but he is so God damn talented that you can't help but be drawn towards him close. He is the stubborn plant that the NFL actively tries to weed out, but still, he remains, erect, effervescent and sometimes impolite.


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