Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was a late and unexpected scratch from Baltimore’s Week 11 road game against the crummy Bears. Jackson, who’d had a cold earlier in the week, said he was “feeling great” after practicing Friday, suggesting he was on track to play. So what the hell happened? Random weight-room injury? Tripped by a mischievous dog while walking down the stairs of his own home? Abducted by aliens? What could knock an MVP-grade quarterback out on a Sunday morning, thrusting the undrafted Tyler Huntley into action for an important road contest?
In the year 2021, when an important player is knocked out of an important game due to illness, the very first and only thing you immediately think of is the dreaded COVID-19. This is especially worrisome because the Ravens appear to have violated injury reporting rules this week by holding Jackson off the injury report, according to NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales. Did Jackson become infected with the novel coronavirus? Or did he dodge a bullet and the symptoms of illness are simply caused by the common flu, which in fact you do hear is going around these days? Which is it?
Apart from almost certainly being lyrics from the bridge of a single from Bonnie Tyler’s ballyhooed Jim Steinman era, “a ‘sickness’ he can’t shake” is a very ominous collection of words to describe the condition of a prime-of-his-life professional athlete. So is this, like, mononucleosis? Seasonal affective disorder? A total eclipse of the heart? What information about Jackson’s illness can be gleaned from a clip of the unwell quarterback walking extremely normally into the, ahem, bowels of Soldier Field?
Judging by Jackson’s clenched gait, I am submitting my lay diagnosis—this seems to be a very serious case of doo-doo butt. Huntley completed 26 of 36 passes for 216 yards and a pick, and the Ravens escaped with a 16–13 victory. Get better, chief.