Column: Trevor Lawrence’s Mindset Is Not a Red Flag — It Is Just Different

Trevor Lawrence has been one of the hottest topics in sports this week after he sat down for an in-depth interview with Sports Illustrated. The level-headed and centered quarterback isn't wired like the Michael Jordan's or Tom Brady's of the world, but there is a reason that is not and should not be a concern.
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In the world of 24-hour news cycles, social media, and daily hot take factories flooding all forms of content at every level, there isn't much room for nuance. 

In that same world is Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback of nuance and subtlety. The quarterback who is wired differently than the cliched image and expectation of a draft's top quarterback or a player who has been seen as a savior to football and the quarterback position since he was in high school and likely even before then. 

Lawrence's mindset, temperament, and maturity are different than most quarterbacks entering the league at 21-years-old. Especially those who are set to be drafted before every other member of the draft class. In short, Lawrence is just a different breed. But different isn't bad -- especially when it comes to the Jaguars and the quarterback position.

Lawrence has been the hottest name of the 2021 NFL Draft since he was a freshman at Clemson and knocked off Nick Saban and Alabama for a National Championship. That hasn't changed since the Jaguars, one of the NFL's smaller market franchises, obtained the No. 1 overall pick and the right to draft Lawrence at No. 1 overall. 

But Lawrence's name went into hyperdrive this week when Sports Illustrated and Michael Rosenberg delivered a brilliantly written profile on the low-key Lawrence, with some in sports media (and in fan bases throughout the NFL) opining that Lawrence wasn't a fierce competitor and wasn't in love with football. 

“It’s hard to explain that because I want people to know that I’m passionate about what I do and it’s really important to me, but . . . I don’t have this huge chip on my shoulder, that everyone’s out to get me and I’m trying to prove everybody wrong," Lawrence said.

“And I think people mistake that for being a competitor. . . . I think that’s unhealthy to a certain extent, just always thinking that you’ve got to prove somebody wrong, you’ve got to do more, you’ve got to be better.”

There are countless reasons why any line of thinking questioning Lawrence's drive and passion is ludicrous and shouldn't even be fully examined. Lawrence has been seen at Clemson as a vocal and emotional leader for years and has proven his competitiveness at various stages. He has nothing to prove to anyone when it comes to his passion. It is true that Lawrence is privileged in the sense that not all quarterbacks can make these comments, but it doesn't mean his mindset is a red flag or even close to one.

Lawrence also doesn't have much to prove when it comes to being the No. 1 pick. He has long been anointed the chosen one at quarterback. Nobody has told Lawrence in his football career that he can't do it; he has never been the underdog that players such as Baker Mayfield, Tom Brady, and Gardner Minshew have been. He wants to be the best, as his former coach told Sports Illustrated, but he is also aware that few don't believe he can't be that. All he has done is throw touchdowns and win games. 

A centered, relaxed point of view when it comes to the quarterback position isn't exactly the norm. The greatest quarterback of all time is known for his otherworldly obsession with the grind and being the best. Most quarterbacks taken at No. 1 overall are expected to be the cliched robots who eat, drink, and breathe football (even though we have seen plenty of those quarterbacks bottom out in the NFL). 

But this doesn't mean Lawrence should be dinged. This doesn't mean general managers, scouts, or coaches should have concerns about Lawrence. His point of view isn't a common one. It is undeniably different. But different isn't a negative. 

Lawrence has accomplished what he has to this point because he is supremely talented and is a driven player and person. The fact that he sees more to life than football may not be what the die-hard football fan wants to hear, but it won't impact him when it comes to having to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in Nashville next season or for the next several seasons beyond that. 

Lawrence has had this mindset throughout his career, but it didn't stop him from becoming the No. 1 recruit out of high school. It didn't stop him from beating college football's best head coach and dynasty for a championship ring as a true freshman. It didn't stop him from throwing together a quickly-scheduled pro day to ensure he could throw for the Jaguars and other teams before shoulder surgery this offseason. And it didn't stop him from losing only two games in nearly three full seasons as a starter. 

Anyone who has followed Lawrence in recent years has known all about his self-awareness and lack of a chip on his shoulder. It wasn't surprising to see or read his comments because that is who he is -- and who he is has never happened to do anything but help him excel at playing quarterback.

It isn't surprising to see the vitriol and negative reactions to Lawrence's comments. But it also isn't surprising to see nearly as many people see his viewpoints as refreshing. 

But it was surprising to those who only want to hear intense passion and obsession from the quarterback position. It is different. It isn't in line with any stereotypes. And that is perfectly okay -- especially for a franchise and fan base like the Jaguars who desperately want competent play at the quarterback position and nothing else.