During a conversation on last week’s episode of the “Pivot Podcast,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, just a few months removed from a Super Bowl victory, stopped by to spread tea with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor.
We know that Ramsey has always been one of the more confident and vocal players in the league. Cornerbacks aren’t usually as easily recognizable as Ramsey, who knows about the thrill of victory, talking tough and backing it up.
He did that all season in leading a Rams secondary to championship heights. The 27-year-old, five-time Pro Bowl player has never been one to hold back his opinion, like the time he called Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen trash, said Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Flacco sucks and called Matt Ryan overrated in a GQ article.
At the same time, he’s been humbled, as all great champions must be to appreciate the dedication it takes to actually reach the mountaintop.
Back in 2018, Ramsey guaranteed a victory over the Patriots in an AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Shortly after upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42, thousands of fans gathered at EverBank Field to welcome the team home.
Ramsey was feeling the crowd and basking in the hype of the moment when he stepped to the mic and let the funk flow.
“I ain’t got too much to say, but make sure you all bring that same energy out next week and the week after,” Ramsey said into a microphone. “We are going to the Super Bowl, and we are going to win that b****. We are going to win that b****.”
We know how it went down. The Jags blew a 20-10 fourth quarter lead and lost 24-20 to Tom Brady’s Pats. The Super Bowl dream went up in smoke and Ramsey learned a tough lesson about humility.
Ramsey Says He Was A Top 4 Pick: Teams Lied To Him
Ramsey was a brash, third-year player trying to establish himself as one of the best. He was rude. He would brawl. Since then, he’s matured, refined his craft and continues to play with a chip on his shoulder.
Ramsey gave some insight into why he plays the game so personally, when the conversation shifted to the beginning of Ramsey’s career. After a stellar career at Florida State University, the playmaking cover corner, who compared himself to Deion Sanders, was selected fifth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite his high draft position, assurances that Ramsey had received from other teams turned the moment into the motivation that sparked his early domination in the league.
“I had assurances from the Dallas Cowboys at four and the Jaguars at five that I was going to get taken if I was there,” said Ramsey. “When I did get drafted, I was mad because I didn’t go three or four, not because it was Jacksonville. That night I didn’t go out or anything. I was really mad. The motivation started immediately in my mind.”
Crowder jumps in to hint at the career pivot that Ramsey would eventually take, as he sought to be traded from the Jaguars during his fourth year with the team. Crowder also draws a parallel between Ramsey and Taylor, who chose to stay with Jacksonville long term during his career, eventually being enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor.
“When you were in Jacksonville, you saw the bigger picture of what was going on,” said Crowder. “Where Fred was there for 11 years and wasted his damn career away losing all the time. You said, “I gotta get out of here.”
“Everyone makes a decision that’s best for them,” said Taylor. “I didn’t feel that I had the leverage to leave, because of certain injuries that I had. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, in terms of money. When they offered me a second deal, I jumped at it. I come from nothing, and I knew that I had to make sure my people were good. Ultimately, and I can’t speak for Jalen, I think my decision was great. As long as the Jaguars exist, my name will forever be in their Ring of Honor.”
Ramsey responded in part by discussing what he saw as a lack of a relationship with former Jaguar head coach and then VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin. The famously gruff Coughlin, who coached Taylor for five years, had no interest in a relationship with his top players, according to Ramsey.
“Jacksonville was one of the first places I’ve ever been in, where I didn’t feel valued,” said Ramsey. “It was weird and it was frustrating. It got to a point where everything was piling up, and we weren’t winning, and they didn’t want to pay me early. All of that put together, it was like, what am I here for?
“The only person who I didn’t have a good relationship with was Tom Coughlin. He ran everything at the time. I had love for all the defensive coaches and still talk to (then Jaguars head coach) Doug Marrone. Coughlin didn’t care about having a relationship with me. It was my way or the highway for him. Relationships matter and the players matter. If you make your top players feel like they ain’t nothing, it’s not going to go well for you.”
Which is all very understandable, because Coughlin was a two-time Super Bowl champion as NY Giants head coach, defeated Belichick and Brady twice and was super old school. He wasn’t about coddling unproven players with huge egos.
Years later, Ramsey might see that situation differently. He seems to have settled in on life and focused on becoming one of the best at his position to ever do it. Three All-Pro awards in six seasons isn’t a bad start.