Lamar Jackson is not just the frontrunner to win this year's league MVP award. The Ravens' second year quarterback is also one of the league's most popular players, a fact that has been reinforced during this holiday season.
On Tuesday night, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Jackson merchandise outsold every other professional athlete on Fanatics during Cyber Monday, a day where many Americans take advantage of major discounts while checking items off their shopping list. Tom Brady's jersey, however, was still the top selling individual item on Fanatics on Cyber Monday.
Jackson, a year after guiding the Ravens to the 6-1 record after replacing Joe Flacco as Baltimore's starting quarterback, has helped lead Baltimore to a 10-2 record this season heading into Sunday's road game against the Bills.
Jackson's exciting style of play is obviously a major reason why he has quickly become one of the league's most popular players. While he has vastly improved his passing efficiency this season, Jackson remains the league's best running quarterback, making mind-boggling spin moves and cutback runs become the normal. A testament to Jackson's greatness as a runner is the fact that he is just 63 yards away from breaking Michael Vick's single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with four weeks still remaining in the season.
How Jackson has handled his success is probably another reason for his budding popularity. Despite the constant questions about what it would mean to win the league's MVP award, Jackson continues to put the emphasis on his teammates while citing that his only goal is to bring a third Vince Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore. Jackson's humility and focus on winning was captured by NFL Films this past Sunday, when Jackson apologized to each of his offensive teammates after committing his first fumble of the season.
What's the driving force behind Jackson's success? While the motivation to prove people wrong is part of it, Jackson's will to win is the biggest factor.
"To be honest with you, he just hates to lose," Ravens tight end Mark Andrews recently said of Jackson, via the team's official website. "A lot of people say they hate to lose and love winning, but he lives that. He's one-track minded. When he first got here, he said it all the time. Winning Super Bowls is really all he wants. You can definitely see he believes in what he says."
Jackson can inch closer to his and his team's goal of winning a Super Bowl on Sunday by defeating the Bills, who are also in the midst of an improbable season after winning nine of their first 12 games. The Ravens, who would be the AFC's No. 1 seed if the playoffs started today, have just two games remaining against teams with winning records.