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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On March 2, 2018, Lamar Jackson stood at the podium of the NFL combine not as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft but one of the bigger storylines.

Jackson repeatedly expressed no intention of switching positions after a rumor circulated teams wanted the Heisman Trophy winner to work out as a wide receiver.

“I’m strictly a quarterback.”

“Whoever likes me at quarterback, that’s where I’m going.”

“No sir, I’m a quarterback.”

Three years later, Jackson has become a unanimous NFL MVP, won more games than any other quarterback since taking over as the Ravens’ starter midway though the 2018 season and produced some of the most memorable highlights in the league.

Here’s a look at the top 10 moments of Jackson’s NFL career:

10. Remarkable COVID return

Date: Dec. 8, 2020

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

Final: Ravens 34, Cowboys 17

What happened: Two days after coming off the reserve/COVID-19 list, Jackson shook off an up-and-down season and again resembled one of the most dangerous players in the league. He threw two touchdowns and ran for a 37-yard touchdown despite one full practice leading up to the game. This performance came after he experienced “a little flu-like symptoms” after testing positive on Thanksgiving and he still couldn’t taste or smell.

What was said: “He’s going to give you whatever [effort] he has, and it turned out that he had a lot tonight. That was good to see. I don’t think you could predict that.” — Ravens coach John Harbaugh

Stat to remember: With his fourth career touchdown run of at least 30 yards, Jackson tied Kordell Stewart for the most by a quarterback since 1950.

9. Historic MNF debut

Date: Nov. 25, 2019

Where: L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

Final: Ravens 45, Rams 6

What happened: Jackson became the first player to throw five touchdown passes in a Monday Night Football debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With the backdrop of the Hollywood sign and the bright lights of prime time, Jackson completed 15-of-20 passes for 169 yards passing and ran for 95 yards. He did all of this despite not playing in the final 14 minutes, 43 seconds.

What was said: “He is one of a kind; he’s pretty special. We got our faces peeled off.” — Rams safety Eric Weddle

Stat to remember: Jackson led the Ravens to touchdowns on all six of his drives, marking the first time in 11 years an NFL team had accomplished this (the last to do so was the 2008 New Orleans Saints).

8. Juke and spin TD in Kansas City

Date: Sept. 22, 2019

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Final: Chiefs 33, Ravens 28

What happened: With the Ravens trailing 33-22 late in the fourth quarter, Jackson attempts to rally Baltimore with what would become his most memorable play in defeat. Outracing Emmanuel Ogbah to the edge, Jackson did a stutter-step at the Chiefs’ 4-yard line to fake out Tyrann Mathieu before spinning around Daniel Sorensen to cross the goal line.

What was said: “The quarterback made some big-time plays. Kudos to him.” — Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones

Stat to remember: Jackson has 899 scramble yards the last three seasons, which ranks fourth in the NFL over that time.

7. Statement in first prime-time game

Date: Dec. 22, 2018

Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California

Final: Ravens 22, Chargers 10

What happened: In his first prime-time game, Jackson transformed the Ravens from a novelty to title contender by beating a Chargers team that had won 10 of its previous 11 games. Jackson upended Los Angeles more with his arm than his legs, hitting tight end Mark Andrews in stride for a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter. This was Jackson’s best throw of his rookie season.

What was said: “We can play with anyone. That was a great team. We can fight, and everyone sees it now.” — Jackson

Stat to remember: At the time, Jackson’s throw to Andrews was the Ravens’ longest touchdown pass in two years.

6. Eclipsing Vick

Date: Dec. 12, 2019

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

Final: Ravens 42, Jets 21

What happened: Jackson broke Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record by a quarterback, and he accomplished the feat in only Week 15. On the opening drive, he faked a handoff to running back Mark Ingram and ran for a hard-fought five yards to surpass his childhood idol’s mark of 1,039 yards set in 2006. When it was announced at the stadium that Jackson had set a new milestone, he didn’t show any emotion. Sitting on the bench, he looked at the video board and then turned his attention to a tablet with quarterbacks coach James Urban.

What was said: “Me vs. Lamar, 40 Yard Dash on natural grass but he has to wear rollerblades. Who’s buying the PPV?” — Tom Brady on Twitter about 30 minutes after Jackson set the record

Stat to remember: In the same game in which he surpassed Vick, Jackson also became the first player in league history to produce at least 4,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in his first 30 career games.

5. “Best run I’ve ever seen by a QB”

Date: Jan. 10, 2021

Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee

Final: Ravens 20, Titans 13

What happened: Jackson won the first playoff game of his career by jumpstarting a comeback with the second-longest postseason run by a quarterback. With Baltimore trailing 10-3 late in the second quarter, Jackson dropped back to pass before bursting through the middle of the Titans defense for a 48-yard touchdown. This was the longest scramble of Jackson’s career.

What was said: “It’s the best run I’ve ever seen by a quarterback.” — Harbaugh

Stat to remember: Jackson traveled 71.2 yards of distance from snap to the moment he crossed the pylon, according to NFL NextGen Stats. That’s the most yards Jackson has totaled on a play as a ball carrier.

4. Taking charge in Seattle

Date: Oct. 20, 2019

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Final: Ravens 30, Seahawks 16

What happened: With the game tied at 13 late in the third quarter, Jackson came to the sideline ticked off that a promising drive stalled at the Seattle 8-yard line. As kicker Justin Tucker was lining up for the kick, Harbaugh saw the upset look on Jackson’s face and reconsidered his decision on fourth-and-2. “You want to go for it,” Harbaugh asked as Jackson walked past him. Jackson stopped and quickly turned to his coach, saying, “Yeah, I want to go for it! Let’s get it!” Jackson went back onto the field, kept the ball and powered his way into the end zone, giving Baltimore a lead it would never relinquish.

What was said: “I don’t know how to describe what a competitor Lamar Jackson is. He wants to win at everything all the time, and we feed off that. He carries that. I think that’s who we are as a team. That’s why he fits us so well. It showed today. You saw that fire.” — Harbaugh

Stat to remember: Jackson ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in Seattle, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with 100 yards rushing and a touchdown run in consecutive games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

3. “Not bad for a running back”

Date: Sept. 8, 2019

Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

Final: Ravens 59, Dolphins 10

What happened: In the 2019 season opener, Jackson answered questions about whether he could throw the ball by tossing five touchdown passes and recording a perfect passer rating. He completed 17-of-20 passes for 324 yards in three quarters of work.

What was said: After the game, Jackson was asked whether he proved to people he was going to throw the ball in 2019. He flashed a smile and responded, “Probably not. Not bad for a running back.”

Stat to remember: Jackson finished with a 24.8% completion rate above expectation in Week 1, according to NFL NextGen Stats.

2. The Cincinnati spin

Date: Nov. 10, 2019

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

Final: Ravens 49, Bengals 13

What happened: The defining play of Jackson’s MVP season was a 47-yard touchdown run that was part Michael Vick, part Barry Sanders. Midway through the third quarter, Jackson raced to the Bengals’ 32-yard line where he eluded linebacker Nick Vigil and safety Shawn Williams by pivoting and corkscrewing himself with a nasty spin move. The spin maneuver — which he had choreographed a day earlier — generated six million views on the NFL’s official Twitter field by Monday morning.

What was said: “They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades. That’s one that everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.” — Harbaugh told his coaches on the headset after the run

Stat to remember: Jackson reached 18.59 mph, according to NFL NextGen Stats. It marked the 25th time he had hit at least 18 mph as a ball carrier in the first nine games of 2019.

1. The Cleveland comeback

Date: Dec. 14, 2020

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland

Final: Ravens 47, Browns 42

What happened: With the Ravens in a must-win situation to reach the postseason, Jackson misses most of the fourth quarter with cramping in his legs and arms and Baltimore watches a 34-20 lead turn into a 35-34 deficit. Returning with two minutes remaining, Jackson scrambles on fourth-and-5 and throws a 44-yard touchdown to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on his first play back.

What was said: “Superman showed up right on time!!” Dez Bryant on Twitter

Stat to remember: That touchdown pass increased Baltimore’s chances of reaching the playoffs from 56% to 82%, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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Rockers Kings of Leon to perform on first night of NFL draft

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CLEVELAND — Kings of Leon will help kick off NFL draft activities on a stage close to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this month.

The Grammy Award-winning band will open the festivities on April 29 with a performance as the draft returns to a more normal state after being held virtually in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to being a top-selling act, lead singer Caleb Followill, his brothers Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew are also football fans and have closely followed Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s career since he was a star at Oklahoma.

Hall of Fame rock singer Ann Wilson of Heart will sing the national anthem before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell begins calling the names of the league’s newest players. Goodell hosted the event last year from his home.

A massive stage is under construction near the Rock Hall and FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns’ downtown home.

Cleveland will be represented by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s All-City Choir, which will sing a special rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The local cover band The Sunrise Jones will serve as the house band for the first two nights of the draft.

Headlining musical acts for the second and third days of the draft will be announced in the coming weeks.

The draft will be held from April 29-May 1.

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Browns banking on dominant Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett pairing – Cleveland Browns Blog

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BEREA, Ohio – Next season, the Cleveland Browns‘ defense will feature two former No. 1 overall picks off the edge. And they’re banking the All-Pro they drafted four years ago will help unlock the vast potential of the one they just signed.

Wednesday, Cleveland further bolstered its budding defense in free agency, inking Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.

Unlike Myles Garrett, Clowney has yet to live up to the billing of being the No. 1 pick. But now healthy again, he sees playing in Cleveland alongside Garrett as an opportunity to finally do so in his eighth season in the league.

“I just want to show that I’m still an elite player,” Clowney said Wednesday. “And prove to other people that I’m still out here and can dominate.”

Clowney is coming off a season with Tennessee during which he did anything but dominate. He played eight games with the Titans without notching a single sack, before missing the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Since becoming the first pick in the 2014 draft, injuries have continually hampered Clowney, beginning with his first career game, which ultimately led to a microfracture in his right knee. Clowney passed a physical in Cleveland on Wednesday on both knees, clearing the way for the Browns to finally sign him.

“I don’t think everybody (has gotten) to see the person they drafted yet,” said Clowney, who has still made three Pro Bowls. “I think I’m working back towards that – I’m well on my way now.

“With my potential and the way I play the game – if I can stay healthy – I shouldn’t be far away from being Defensive Player of the Year. I think I have that potential, and I can do it.”

The Browns already boast a player who was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation just last season in Garrett. Before contracting COVID-19 in late November, Garrett was leading the NFL with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Despite missing two games with the virus and laboring with his breathing after returning, Garrett still was named a first-team All-Pro.

Clowney, himself, has commanded plenty of attention from opposing offenses in the past, even with his injury history and inconsistent production. In fact, since 2018, according to ESPN Stats & Info, only Michael Bennett and Za’Darius Smith have been doubled-team more often.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Clowney, who, despite the constant double teams, still owns one of the five-best pass-rush win rates since 2018. “You game plan all week to go against one person, watch him all week to get pass-rush reps — and then you go into the game, and all of a sudden, it’s two people in front of you or somebody there to chip you the whole game.”

In Cleveland, however, Clowney could see the fewest double teams of his career, lining up opposite Garrett, who faced the third-highest rate of double teams last season.

“I’m looking forward to playing with somebody who is dominant on the opposite side like a Myles Garrett, who can draw a double team,” Clowney said. “Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”

Without a doubt, Clowney will see more one-on-one opportunities. And having already landed edge rusher Takkarist McKinley in free agency this offseason, Cleveland could deploy Clowney in the pass rush in a variety of creative ways.

“We love his relentless style of play,” general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line.

“The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”

Berry has been busy this offseason upgrading every level of a defense that ranked just 19th in efficiency in 2020 but for a team that still won 12 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Last month, the Browns landed arguably the top safety available in free agency in John Johnson III from the Rams. Berry also added three other potential defensive starters in linebacker Anthony Walker, nickelback Troy Hill and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

Clowney, however, has enough talent to elevate the Browns’ defense to yet another level. Especially if he, in his own words, proves that he can be a dominant player once again.

“That is all I am here to prove this year,” he said. “We’re going to see this season.”

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Seattle Seahawks extend team president Chuck Arnold through 2027

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SEATTLE — The Seahawks have extended team president Chuck Arnold through 2027, they announced Wednesday.

Arnold is entering his 28th season with the Seahawks and his fourth in his current role. As president of the Seahawks and First & Goal Inc., which operates Lumen Field, he oversees the organization’s business and financial operations, sales, marketing and administration.

“Chuck continues to do an exceptional job working with and supporting the football operation while assuring that the entire Seahawks organization remains an engaged and invested community leader unafraid to tackle tough challenges in our region,” Jody Allen, chair of the Seahawks, said in the team’s release. “Stability, quality, and consistency of leadership is a key ingredient to our continued success and winning culture. I remain excited for the future of this organization both on and off the field.”

Arnold’s extension means more stability at the top of the organization. In January, the Seahawks gave general manager John Schneider an extension through the 2027 draft. Coach Pete Carroll was previously extended through the 2025 season.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, and a graduate of Washington State University, Arnold began his career with the Seahawks as an intern in 1994. He was their COO from 2013 to 2018 before replacing Peter McLoughlin as team president.

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