Over the last 24ish hours, a lot has been made about Lamar Jackson ending his first career playoff win by giving a good leaving alone to the postgame handshake with the Titans and noping off the field like he had another bad case of Prairie Dogging It. Not much of it favorable to Jackson, as you could well imagine.
And so on and so forth. You get the gist. For his part, Jackson apologizes for nothing.
PennLive - Leading up to Sunday’s rematch, Harbaugh and the Ravens downplayed animosity between their team and the Titans. Jackson, though, pointed back to the November scuffle when a reporter asked during his postgame news conference why he ran into the locker room so quickly.
“I feel it was just disrespect,” Jackson said. “We didn’t see what went on before the game the last time we played those guys and they were standing on our logo and they were getting into it with our coach. That was just disrespectful, because, you know, we treat all of our other opponents with respect, and it wasn’t no reason for us to shake hands and stuff like that. We could be the bigger guys, so we just walked off the field.”
I have to admit, I don't hate it. I'm not some old school fraud who rails against postgame shows of respect and pines away for some days that never existed when everyone on every team in sports supposedly wanted to straight up murder everyone in a different uniform. For every true story about how Bob Gibson refused to talk to anyone at the All Star game who wasn't on the Cardinals with him, there literally scores of Hall of Famers who treated opponents like they were personal friends off the field/court/ice after trying to destroy them on it. One of my favorites is the one and only time in Bill Russell's 13 years when his season ended in a playoff loss (the other time the Celtics lost in his career, he was injured), he supposedly sat in the locker room listening to Wilt Chamberlain's Lakers celebrating down the hall, turned to his team and said, "Alright. Let's go down there and congratulate the champions." And I'm not one of those tools who think the Stanley Cup handshake line should be eliminated.
That said, I kind of like what Jackson did. Yes, it was vindictive and petty. And bad sportsmanship. But rather than throw your wrist across your forehead and flop onto your fainting couch about the kids out there whose minds will be poisoned by this heinous act:
… remember to keep in mind what he actually did here. He didn't cheap shot anyone. He didn't maim or injure anyone. This was a snub. There's bad blood here and he's being completely honest about it in a way that's actually kind of refreshing. Looking straight into the web cam and saying there was "no reason to shake hands" beats the bejeezus out of putting on an insincere display for the cameras and then telling people off the record you can't stand those other pricks or whatever. That would set a worse example "for the children" than owning it and stating your reasons, like Jackson did.
More to the point, and to echo something Reags said so well earlier, we can use a little more good old fashioned hatred across all sports. Say what you will about the Patriots, but they've given 88% (44/50ths) of the country a supervillain to root against. Take away Tom Brady (who didn't invent the petty postgame handshake snub, but he did perfect it) and take the team out of Super Bowl contention and see how much fun football will be if everyone treats the playoffs like a big family reunion. Vince McMahon didn't build an empire on good feelings, fair play and sportsmanship.
Even more to the point, acting kind of like a dick after a win is part of the Ravens identity, going back almost to they're arrival from Cleveland. It's in their DNA. The way it was for the '90s Pistons. It drove all of New England nuts when Terrell Suggs called the Pats "arrogant fuckers" as he walked past their locker room and pissed all over them on TV after the 2012 AFC championship game:
… but you had to accept it. Respect it, even. To the victors go the spoils, and all that. It sucked, but it certainly didn't hurt the best rivalry the Pats had from about 2007-2019. And it made it all the sweeter when the Pats beat Baltimore in the AFCCG two years later. God willing, if another virus doesn't cancel a season, these teams will meet again and Tennessee will want to avenge this disrespect and the game will be that much more worth watching, thanks to the hatred.
So thanks, Baltimore. Don't try to be better.