Ryan Clark Called Lamar Jackson First ‘Authentic’ Black QB and Twitter Lost It | This Is Why ESPN Inked Him To Mega Deal Making Over $2M Per Year

Ryan Clark said a mouthful without really saying anything, when he called Lamar Jackson, the first “authentic” Black quarterback on ESPN’s “First Take” this week.

That one statement set off a firestorm of social media reaction, pulling in all directions. 

Not that Ryan Clark sufficiently expounded on his comment, but he didn’t need to. His mission was already accomplished as social media came with an onslaught of photos, memes and names that should be offended by Clark’s statement from Steve ‘Air” McNair and Doug Williams to Randall Cunnigham, James Harris, the list goes on and on. 

The word “authentic” suggests that any quarterback who came before Lamar Jackson wasn’t his true self. Or at least that’s how many on X perceived it. 

Ryan Clark Erases 100 Years Of Black QB History

The fight for Black authenticity — which according to the reaction from Xers centers around a poverty-stricken come-up, using your skill to fight oppression, refusing to speak the King’s English or adjust your cultural shortcomings if it means appeasing others — was turned up.

Noone could settle on a definition for authentic, but labeling Jackson as a first of any kind incited a riot.

Other more “authentic” options were offered. Candidates were plenty, from Quincy Carter and his drugs problems, to Doug Williams being the lowest paid player in the league as a starter for the Tampa Bay Bucs back in 1979 (paid less than some backups), to Dak Prescott allegedly growing up in a trailer park to Cam Newton and his ghetto charisma to Jameis Winston, who stole crab legs as a college student to Joe Gilliam and Shack Harris who suffered indignities and disrespect beyond comprehension as pioneering Black NFL quarterbacks. 

Of course, Michael Vick went to prison for dogfighting. It doesn’t get any more authentically Black than that, according to X. 

In addition to being bombarded with comments from fans, Clark also had to field some backlash against a post he made from Jan. 24 that is resonating with more people today. Clark speaking on Lamar Jackson’s legacy entering this season’s AFC Championship game, and why a win for him would be different than any other Black quarterback before him. 

White Fans Came At Ryan Clark For Ranking Lamar Jackon Over Josh Allen

As if the backlash from Black Twitter wasn’t bad enough for his perplexing cultural take on Lamar, Clark was adamant about ranking Jackson ahead of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who has more playoff success, during a segment on “First Take.” 

Every other kind of Twitter and Xer came out against Clark, defending Allen and accusing the ESPN host of playing the race card. 

If attention is what Clark was looking for, he surely got it. He threw a bomb into the sports social media mosh pit and definitely struck a nerve. When you can access a large cross section of the sports audience with one comment then you know you’re influential in this space. 

With a new contract in tow, Clark has security and if the Lamar Jackson controversy is any indication, he’s going to go all out to move the needle, incite emotion and continue to rise in this game. 

Ryan Clark Is Moving Up ESPN Food Chain

After Clark’s previous contract expired, the nine-year TV veteran went public with his free-agent status and betting on himself. 

ESPN never gave Clark a chance to test the market and finalized a deal with the 44-year-old former NFL player last week that that sources familiar with the parameters believe will pay him over $2 million a year.

That would boost his pay beyond that of fellow ESPN analyst Mina Kimes, who earns $1.7 million annually, according to the New York Post. As part of the proposed ESPN contract, Clark will also be allowed to continue hosting “Inside the NFL” on the CW Network and his popular podcast, “The Pivot.”

Clark joined ESPN in 2015. He’s gotten better each season as a major contributor and driving voice on “NFL Live,” “Get Up,” “First Take,” and “SportsCenter.” 

In May, the Louisiana native won his first Sports Emmy for “Outstanding Personality/Studio Analyst.”

So, expect the cerebral Clark to continue to push the envelope and say things that will incite a reaction and carry the news cycle until the next day his face graces the screen. 

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