Twins

“Work Harder. Nobody Cares!”: Why LaMonte Wade Jr. Has Been a Fan of Lamar Jackson from the Start

Photo credit: David Richard, USA Today Sports

LaMonte Wade Jr. believed in Lamar Jackson from the beginning.

The Minnesota Twins rookie, who made his debut last season and played in 26 games, watched Jackson in college when he starred for Louisville and won a Heisman Trophy. He was thrilled when his hometown Baltimore Ravens traded up to No. 32 in the 2018 draft to take him. And he was certain that Jackson would bounce back from his playoff game even though he went 14-for-29 for 194 yards and was sacked seven times by the Los Angeles Chargers.

But the thing he remembers most about Jackson’s breakout campaign last season, when he was named unanimous MVP and became a national sensation, wasn’t his signature 47-yard run against the Cincinnati Bengals. Or his 39-yarder against the Houston Texans. Or his five touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams.

It’s the shirt he wears at his post-game press conferences. It reads: “Nobody Cares. Work Harder!”

“I mean, this guy just won the MVP, unanimous MVP, and he’s wearing a shirt that says ‘Nobody Cares. Work Harder!’ when actually everybody cares,” he said with a short laugh. “They have pop-up stores in Baltimore. You can’t even get his jersey. I’m pretty sure if you try to order his jersey right now, you can’t get it until July.”

It’s not uncommon for athletes to appreciate someone who plays a different sport than they do. Following Kobe Bryant’s passing in January, for example, Tiger Woods, Richard Sherman and Neymar were among many non-basketball players who joined the rest of the NBA community and people across the nation in paying tribute to Kobe and his “Mamba mentality.”

Jackson’s work ethic is a big reason why Wade, who is trying to make the Twins’ roster in Spring Training, is drawn to him. But make no mistake, it’s also because he plays for his hometown team.

Wade grew up in Baltimore and was drafted out of the University of Maryland by the Twins in the ninth round of the 2015 draft. He attended his first Ravens game in elementary school and says that his family went to games routinely while he was growing up. But usually he, his brother Jamal and his father made a ritual of watching them on TV.

“We always like to watch and make it a family thing on Sunday,” said Wade, “where we can kinda put everything else away and just worry about cheering on the Ravens.”

LaMonte Sr. is a huge Baltimore sports fan who roots for the Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. His brother Jamal, however, roots for the Indianapolis Colts.

“We give him some crap about that,” said Wade, “but if he’s not cheering for the Colts, he will cheer for the Ravens. So we’ll take it, I guess.”

His brother’s free-agent target for the Colts in free agency is another former Louisville quarterback. One who’s awfully familiar to Minnesota Vikings fans — and was also drafted with the 32nd pick.

“He’s hoping that they get Teddy Bridgewater,” said Wade.

LaMonte, 26, and Jamal, 24, are competitive by nature, something that manifests itself in both their football rivalries and their epic ping pong battles. But they are avid supporters of each other as well. Jamal got permission to go to LaMonte’s debut in Chicago against the White Sox in late June last year.

“It’s always fun. I mean my brother, we’re a close family,” says Wade. “We’re always trying to find some little battles that we can have, like friendly battles to have. It’s just another rivalry that would be started, I guess.”

Wade says he has not met Jackson, but he would like to one day.

“The way he just took the city, and I feel like on Sunday, everything stops,” says Wade. “When the Ravens play, everybody stops. You gotta watch the Ravens because Lamar is coming on.

“You can’t miss the TV. Nobody is leaving the TV because you don’t want to miss the next highlight. I mean, that’s what makes it fun and exciting.

“I remember watching Ravens games in the past, and you’d be like, ‘Here we go, same old check down, check down.’ But now it’s like, man, what’s gonna happen? I gotta sit here, Lamar’s gonna run, he’s gonna throw one, he’s gonna do something crazy.”

Beyond that, he loves watching Jackson’s postgame interviews where he wears his signature shirt.

“You gotta watch him at the end of the game for the press conference,” continues Wade. “He’s just 100 percent real, he’s having fun. He’s him. And he’s just a humble guy.”

That’s the major takeaway for Wade: Jackson is hardworking and humble.

“He’s just so big,” says Wade, “but he’s himself, just a regular guy going out there and trying to do his job. That’s the cool thing I take away from him.”

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2019 ZONE COVERAGE DRAFT GUIDE: Luke Inman's Final Mock Draft

Photo credit: David Richard, USA Today Sports

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