National Football League

Trevor Lawrence: The calm, cool and collected future NFL star

April 16

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist 

"I won’t panic."

That’s part of what Trevor Lawrence was really saying in the interview that sent the National Football League universe into a pre-draft sweat this week.

He was saying that when the turmoil comes – for an NFL quarterback, some kind of turmoil always comes – he isn't going to freak out.

That when it looks like a time when a normal human being would get worried or scared, or when things aren’t going according to plan (in the NFL, they never go exactly according to plan), he isn't going to fall into a pit of despondency and fractured self-confidence.

That all of what comes next — all the pressure, the challenges, teaming up with coaching master Urban Meyer, trying to revitalize the fortunes of the Jacksonville Jaguars — is not going to crush or dissuade him.

If we ever need a reminder of just how much football matters to those of us who follow it, it can be found in the peculiar, three-sided relationship among quarterbacks, the words they speak and the NFL public.

Could it be that every sentence uttered from the mouth of an NFL QB is more closely analyzed, more fervently parsed and more psychologically scrutinized than the passes they throw and the decisions they make?

It sometimes seems that way. Never more so than this week, when the all-but-locked-in No. 1 pick by the Jaguars in the upcoming draft gave an in-depth interview to Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg.

"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. "I just don’t have that. I can’t manufacture that. I don’t want to."

He added: "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 was more, but those were the comments that fluttered around in the gridiron wind and got stuck in a few craws. The least generous takeaways suggested that such expressions didn’t show enough intensity, enough passion, enough caring, enough fanatical, win-at-all-costs fire.

On "First Things First," FS1’s Nick Wright, who is a big admirer of Lawrence, admitted that Jags fans were probably hoping for more of a pep rally speech.

"My commentary here is less about Trevor Lawrence and more about the idea we are talking about: Can it be good to be unhealthy?" Wright said.

"The most successful people typically are unhealthy, unbalanced and a little off. They aren’t super happy. They don’t have a great work-life balance. They are maniacally focused on their craft, which is, again, not how I would want any of my kids to lead their life. But if I’m a Jags fan … I kind of do want my guy to be maniacally focused."

Such fan logic is flawed thinking and also a skewed narrative. A deeper look at the SI article — Rosenberg is an outstanding writer and told a broad, nuanced story – adds perspective.

Rosenberg interviewed Lawrence while the Clemson standout was relaxing by a California beach as sunset approached, spending some peaceful time with his soon-to-be wife (he and Marissa Mowry tied the knot last weekend) before the craziness of NFL life began.

Is it unusual that in such moments he would reflect on the fact that there is more to life than football?

Yet we must look at the balance, too, and the article included numerous examples of just how much Lawrence wants to win and just how good he wants to become.

He wants, according to his high school coach, to be the best who has ever played the most important position, and he wants it so badly and has wanted it for so long that no one in his close circle even bothers talking about it. It’s just assumed.

There’s your next-level fanaticism. It just doesn’t come with a snarl.

"I think to myself, ‘Why would he have a chip on his shoulder?’" Colin Cowherd said on "The Herd." "Since he was 14, he’s been the best quarterback in the country. Nobody ever has doubted Trevor Lawrence. He doesn’t resent people because people have helped him."

What QBs say gives us a chance to get to know them a little better and offers a peek into the NFL window.

But like the rest of us, quarterbacks don’t always feel the same way or say the same thing from one week to the next. We are not psychology experts, and wow, how about this for a concept: It is worth considering that everyone is wired a little differently.

The best approach for fans is to enjoy the show and the circus around it, to digest all the interviews, profiles and backstories that lead up to the draft. But keep them in their proper context.

And take a leaf from Trevor Lawrence’s mentality playbook: Don’t panic.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.


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