Imagine being a Ravens fan and coming across this video. You've got your first league MVP in franchise history. A face-of-the-franchise QB with a totally unique skillset, a career record of 19-3 as a starter, and he's still just 23 years old. And no sooner does he land the Madden '21 cover then every sports site on the internet is running headlines containing words you never want to see together: "Lamar Jackson" and "jet ski." Because the odds it's going to turn out to be this:
... are infinitesimal. It's way more likely you're about to read an aquatic version of Ben Roethlisberger taking a helmetless digger off his motorcycle or Kellen Winslow Jr. going over the handlebars of his. So consider yourselves fortunate. The Madden curse merely buzzed the tower on this one, it hasn't gotten missile lock yet.
But for me - even being a guy who has never been mistaken for a Ravens fan - the thing that gave me a panic attack watching this wasn't even Jackson doing a header over the wave runner. It was him playing beach football in the first place. In New England, we've got an institutional memory of this brutal bloodsport, going back to 1999. And the NFL's Rookie Beach Bowl in the sands of Honolulu during Pro Bowl weekend. The LAST Rookie Beach Bowl the league would ever have, thanks to this horrific injury to Patriots running back Robert Edwards:
Edwards went up for a pass while being defended by Charles Woodson and R.W. McQuarters, landed wrong, his foot got stuck in the sand funny, and his knee was dislocated, cutting off all blood flow to his lower leg. The doctors who performed the emergency surgery said he was about 45 minutes away from having the leg amputated. After racking up 1,115 yards on almost 300 carries with 12 total TDs as a rookie, Edwards had to sit out the next three seasons before finally getting a comeback try with the Dolphins in 2002. After just 20 rushing attempts, his career came to an end for good.
I'm not here to kill the buzz of your MVP narrowly avoiding catastrophe on the hull of a personal watercraft. I'm just telling the Ravens to have a talk with your guy about the hazards of having a pair of $100 million knees running around in the sand. If I was an NFL owner, I'd be writing a ban on beach football into every player contract I sign. One destroyed career is too much.