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Seeking Lamar Jackson impersonators – How NFL…

6 min read
Seeking Lamar Jackson impersonators - How NFL...

The pursuit of finding someone, anyone, to mimic Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson for their scout team has spurred NFL teams to audition everyone from the leader in touchdown passes in the Alliance of American Football to the college roommate of the All-Pro quarterback’s cousin. One team even went as far as to contact an ice fisherman in South Dakota.

Taryn Christion was getting his hair cut when he received a call in early October from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were playing Jackson and the Ravens in a few days. Christion, an avid outdoorsman, threw for over 11,000 yards, ran for over 1,500 and has seven career records from his time playing from 2015-18 at South Dakota State.

The Steelers flew Christion 874 miles from Sioux Falls for one reason: to play the role of Lamar Jackson in three practices. Some teammates even called him “Lamar” a few times.

“I am not Lamar Jackson,” Christion said in October, “but I am going to play hard and run fast and do those things.”

Nobody can remember whether the Steelers have ever brought in a free agent just to simulate one opposing player in practice. Then again, unique measures are required for a unique playmaker like Jackson, the MVP front-runner who can make a defense look foolish with a spin in the open field or a pass to the end zone after leaping off one foot.

Jackson worked his late-game magic to lead the Ravens to a 26-23 overtime victory in Pittsburgh. Christion was cut two days later after his impersonation gig was up, and he wasn’t signed by another NFL team the rest of the regular season. Christion is on the roster for the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats.

“No one has a quarterback that moves and throws like Lamar Jackson, so we are not alone in that,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Heading into Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game, the Tennessee Titans will probably find out what many Ravens opponents have come to realize. The challenge to defend Jackson goes beyond game days. It starts in the practices leading up to the showdown with the NFL’s best quarterback/running back/superhero.

He glides for first downs in a blink of an eye and throws touchdown passes with a flick of the wrist. At 6-foot-2, Jackson has been clocked running the 40-yard dash in a scorching 4.34 seconds. And there’s that YouTube video from high school that shows Jackson throwing the ball 100 yards.

Like Jackson, Christion is 6-foot-2 but his time is 4.5 seconds. Chiefs cornerback Alex Brown, who simulated Jackson on the scout team this year, can run the 40 in 4.42 seconds but he’s limited in passing because he’s a 5-foot-9 ex-high school Wildcat quarterback.