Lamar Jackson & Mookie Betts Keep The Spice In The Game | Professional Myth-Busters

The NFL and MLB worlds collided this week as we saw two of the greatest to ever do it in their respective sports show out in grand statistical fashion.

Lamar Jackson rained on the record books with an all-time performance. This week he followed a career-high 300-yard passing performance with 442 more yards and 62 on the ground. 

Naturally, Betts, a five-time All-Star, went 6-for-8 in the last two games of a tight series, including a 4-for-4 night in the clincher on Thursday to advance his team to the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. 

These athletes are unique in that they possess supreme athleticism, generational skill sets and an intellectual understanding of what they bring to the game. Both have already achieved MVPs before the age of 30. Mookie is 29 and Lamar is 24, but both are of this generation. 

They are the height of what’s happening NOW in their respective sports. Faces of their burgeoning professional leagues. Black faces. Role models who haven’t been smeared by the tabloids or social media sleuths. They are invested in their teams, their bodies and the community.

Jersey sales say Mookie is the most popular player in MLB.

 

When it comes to performing, they both shine on the big stage. Their abilities to balance passionate play and humility, sets them apart as well.

Lamar Can’t Throw?

All of the lukewarm chatter about his passing ability and his inability to beat Patrick Mahomes has turned to praise and MVP billing.

Remember these takes?

There were also times this season where it seemed like the football world doubted LJ8. People have short memories when it comes to sports, but the disappointing moments are what sticks to their ribs like grandma’s mac and cheese. 

Betts has been to the top of the mountain and can relate to Lamar Jackson in that expectations can sometimes drown out the beauty of the moment. 

Lessen the magnificence of the accomplishment because it didn’t meet a preconceived criteria for success.

Betts has an MVP, two World Series rings and he’s going for three with his L.A. Dodgers team, who just defeated the San Francisco Giants in a five-game NLDS. Betts fought through injuries all season long.

He played a career-low 122 games and posted career-lows in batting average (.264) and RBI (58), not including the 60-game COVID season in 2020.

Social media wasn’t so bold as to call this a bust season for Betts, but the dynamic right fielder has gotten fans so used to producing monster offensive seasons that this year was a letdown to some. That perspective is not seeing the forest for the trees. 

If there is any question whether Hollywood Mookie still has the hunger and grit of a rookie, he answered that this season.

He could have shut it down a couple of times. Instead he challenged himself, while still helping the team. 

When the Gold Glove outfielder returned from missing 11 games with right hip inflammation, he played second base for the Dodgers and flashed his versatility as a baller. 

As the Dodgers and Giants battled down to the wire this season, the ultimate goal was to have Mookie 100 percent healthy for the playoffs. History tells us that Betts will show out once he hits the postseason stage.

Cracking The Code

Mookie’s done that and then some in the past week. Shining a light on the African-American baseball player.

With Blacks comprising less than 8 percent of MLB, superstars like Betts transcend the game and provide that visual spark and inspiration that could draw a new generation of Black baseball players to the sport.

It wasn’t always easy for Mookie. Standing just 5 feet 9, he was very small as a kid, and some coaches wouldn’t let him participate, which fueled his desire.

Similarly, Lamar Jackson’s evolution as a dual-threat quarterback is all about silencing haters.

He’s had to overcome so many doubters, from being the last of five first round quarterbacks chosen on draft day in 2018 to the recent dissections of his ability to flourish within the passing game. 

His every accomplishment is also a pushback against stereotypes that still infect the conversations about the qualifications of Black quarterbacks.

Never forget: Former NFL GM Bill Polian said Lamar should be a wide receiver.

This week in sports you are witnessing greatness that excites and captivates people, astonishes the mind and makes others uncomfortable.

Mookie Betts and Lamar Jackson inspire conversation, confrontation and celebration and together they contribute to squashing narratives that have no place in sports’ changing landscape.  

 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.