Jalen Ramsey made A.J. Green so angry he got put into a choke hold. Is that his welcome to stardom moment?
Dating back to the days of Deion Sanders, shutdown cornerbacks all seem to have an arrival moment where their athletic ability publicly intersects with the cavalier attitude necessary to succeed at the position.
Whether that was Richard Sherman hollering at Tom Brady after a game (or proclaiming his superiority to Michael Crabtree), Darrelle Revis sending an entire coaching staff scrambling during a training camp holdout or Josh Norman turnbuckle tossing Odell Beckham during a Panthers-Giants game, the league’s most recognizable cornerbacks all seem to have that benchmark.
Jalen Ramsey had his last Sunday.
After getting far enough underneath the skin of Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green to necessitate a choke hold and punches, Ramsey doubled down on his methods during a conversation with reporters Wednesday.
“I told him almost every play that he was weak and he was soft,” Ramsey said, via the Florida Times-Union. “Them is straight facts, he just couldn't handle the truth, facts.
“I told him that his time is almost up. I told him it was easy, which it was. He had one catch for six yards. I was just out there spitting facts to him.”
Green had just one catch for six yards on the afternoon—an undeniable victory for Ramsey. And, as Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit pointed out Wednesday, he managed to expose an apparent softness in Green’s game that has been talked about by players around the league before. All this, for a 23-year-old with fewer than two seasons under his belt.
Ramsey had a stellar rookie season, but is arguably the best cover corner in football this year. Grading site Pro Football Focus has him No. 3 behind Marshon Lattimore and Jason McCourty, and one ahead of Philly corner Patrick Robinson. Paired with A.J. Bouye, they make up the backbone of Sacksonville, the league’s best passing defense and sack leaders.
As we discovered in Jonathan Jones’ recent piece about Julius Peppers, there seems to be a distinct fork in the road that star players hit during their NFL career. One road leads to cell phone service provider commercials, catch phrases and automatic fan recognition when it comes to Pro Bowl voting and merchandise sales. Another path leads to a more solitary football life. Ramsey, who has never been afraid of the spotlight, seems to have chosen his path. Like Sherman, Revis and Norman before him, the hard work has only just started. Now, everyone will want a piece.
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