In a time of very real villains both inside and outside of the sporting world, we’ve lost sight of the value a lovable heel can provide.
They used to be everywhere—a sponge for all of the outsized emotions we channel into sports. The bad that, at the end of the day, is still good. And if we’re going to regain our diplomatic footing and rediscover a common ground, we’ll need a few to begin dominating the NFL landscape.
For a long time, I thought Aaron Rodgers would fill that void. He was prolific, but also subtly hilarious. His gregarious personality was the perfect balance between his cutting wit and raging sensitivities, which had become well known over the years. Of course, the Packers’ recent demise has dimmed all of that a bit. He’s now just a frustrated dude in his mid-thirties looking for a change.
Odell Beckham also had a chance, though his lean into the Christopher Nolan-Batman universe may have been too hard. The fact that he’s handing out Joker cards to opposing fans may be the most under-covered NFL story of the year.
I, for one, nominate Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey has it all, from the outsized confidence to the undeniable skill. Just watch what he does to NFL golden boy Andrew Luck in this dogfight of a game on Sunday afternoon (Jaguars won 6–0).
With their own playoff ambitions largely derailed, the Jaguars upended the Colts’ hot streak this weekend and put their own future in doubt. Ramsey closed the game out with an incredible tackle. Good have a good time destroying things—it’s just what they do. Ramsey also called a bunch of people—including Bills quarterback Josh Allen—“trash” in a GQ article before the season started. He called multiple people “trash” on the Bills sideline when the Jaguars and Bills met last weekend, even after the Jaguars were losing. Then, after the game, still subtly insulted Allen and defended his initial “trash” statement.
It could be a long few years in Jacksonville as they rebuild their roster and likely search for the best solution at quarterback. Having someone to fuel the fire along the way will help keep them interesting—and will keep us all watching.