Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson, who is now the highest-paid player in NFL history after signing a new contract, tells PEOPLE that while he pondered leaving Charm City, the fans showed him “genuine” affection, and he chose to “finish it here.”
The 26-year-old quarterback, who signed a five-year, $260 million contract with the Ravens last month, spoke with PEOPLE at the Roll with the Punches Foundation’s “It’s Okay Knot To Be Okay” black tie and sneaker gala this weekend.
“I just love everything about Baltimore, wonderful fan base, you know, even though I was getting DMs, like, people gonna miss me, you know, stuff like that,” he said.
Jackson, who grew up in Florida before attending the University of Louisville, believes the Maryland community has embraced him as their quarterback.
“I feel like this is my third home, because I count Louisville as my second home, just because I played there three years, and the love they show, it’s like, genuine,” Jackson said on the red carpet before of the event, which raised mental health awareness. “It’s like I’m part of their family and I felt like when people go into work, you know, whether we win or lose, it defines their week, how they’re gonna prepare for work and stuff like that.”
The Heisman Trophy winner, who will play alongside standout receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this season, has his sights set on the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“I’d simply like to finish it here, man. Do you know? Win my Super Bowl here, as I previously stated, and the sky is the limit, and we’ll see what else happens,” he says.
At the evening, Jackson, his mother Felicia Jones, and his production firm received the foundation’s Chairman’s Award for their mental health advocacy work.
“They not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk,” stated Founder and Executive Director Joe Diggs, referring to Lamar and his mother while presenting the prize.
The gala was hosted by actor Anthony Anderson, well known for his main role in the eight-season television series Black-ish.