Robert Edwards. Remember him? In the spring of 1998, the New England Patriots, coming off a second-straight AFC East division title, watched helplessly as a 24-year-old Curtis Martin in the prime of his career left as a restricted free agent to join former head coach Bill Parcells as the centerpiece of the division-rival Jets. It was a piece of clever (read: slimy) maneuvering from Parcells, who offered the two-time Pro Bowler a “poison pill” contract he knew the Patriots would be unable to match due to their salary cap structure. And yet, despite all the backstabbing and subterfuge, it almost worked out for the Patriots . . . almost.
With the compensatory first-round pick the Patriots received from the Jets for the Martin deal, the team selected Robert Edwards—a talented-but-injury-prone running back from the back factory known as Georgia—19th overall. In his first season in Foxborough, Edwards tore the AFC East a new one, tallying over 1,400 yards from scrimmage while amassing 12 touchdowns. But that offseason, in a cruel twist of fate and ligaments, Edwards tore the ACL, MCL, and PCL in his left leg—not to mention a partial tear of his LCL tendon, extensive nerve damage and a ruptured artery—during an invite-only “Rookie Beach Bowl.” Doctors had to fight to save his leg, let alone his career. Edwards would go on to play in the CFL before finally returning to an NFL field again in 2002, touching the ball 38 times for Miami Dolphins, but his story remains one of the greatest “what ifs” in NFL history.
All of this is an EXTREMELY long-winded way of saying that if you’re a Baltimore Ravens fan—or just a football fan in general—then you’re going to unironically hate to see what we’re about to show you . . .
That’s reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson breaking containment during a beach football game on sketchy little strip of sand, taking off at full speed, before colliding head on with a jet ski instead of the traditional middle linebacker. All of this is about 1/10th as dangerous as playing in an actual NFL game, but as Edwards’ story proves, you don’t even get the chance to get hurt playing in the NFL if you blow out your knee while on vacation. Needless to say, Jackson should be expecting a little ring-a-ling-ling from the Ravens’ front office any second now.