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View from the O-Zone: Entertaining – as usual

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JACKSONVILLE – He entertained, because it’s what he does.

He did so by being honest, because that’s also what Jalen Ramsey does – and that’s what he was doing at TIAA Bank Field Thursday afternoon.

Ramsey spoke to the media for a little less than eight minutes Thursday.

Not all of it was headline-grabbing. And even if it provided few insights into Patriots-Jaguars, Ramsey’s weekly media availability at the ‘Bank was – as usual – well worth watching. Perhaps the most entertaining moment came when the Jaguars’ second-year All-Pro cornerback began talking about just who in his family he would hit – hard – if competing against them on the football field.

The list was … conclusive.

“When you play the game of football, I feel like to respect the game you have to play it fierce,” Ramsey said as the Jaguars (1-0) prepared to play the New England Patriots (1-0) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

“I don’t believe in having friends on the field. If my brother, my dad, my mom and my grandma were out there … it’s on. After the game, we can be cool … it doesn’t matter.”

Ramsey, the Jaguars’ most polarizing player and a player who seemingly draws more national interest by the week, was answering a question about how he can compete during a game and show respect to an opponent afterward. He continued a moment in that vein:

“I feel like you have to respect the game of football. Football’s not a game being nice to each other and all that – like kumbaya … But after a game’s over with, that’s cool.”

“You wouldn’t really hit your grandmother,” a reporter told Ramsey.

“No, I definitely would; she knows that,” Ramsey said and said into the camera with a smile: “Grandma you know that I love you, but …”

Would she hit you back?

“Would she hit me back?” he said. “Grandma might not get up from one of my licks.”

Not all of Ramsey’s eight-or-so minutes Thursday was about family. This was his lone media availability of Patriots Week, so there was no way Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski wasn’t going to be a topic.

Ramsey honestly and entertainingly made headlines last month with his comments in ESPN The Magazine and GQ that were less than complimentary about certain NFL players. He talked a lot in those stories about some NFL quarterbacks, and he talked in the ESPN article about Gronkowski.

“I don’t think Gronk’s good,” Ramsey was quoted as saying. “Let me say — I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is.”

A reporter on Thursday told Ramsey he had asked Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash what he would say to someone who said Gronkowski was overrated. The reporter told Ramsey that Wash’s reply had been, “He’s crazy.”

Ramsey smiled and shrugged.

“I might be crazy; I don’t care,” Ramsey said.

When the reporter started to ask about Gronkowski again, Ramsey answered quickly.

“He’s good,” Ramsey said. “He’s good, now. We ain’t going to get it twisted. He’s good. But you saying this to me is supposed to bring fear to me?”

“No,” was the reply.

“All right then,” Ramsey said. “I don’t fear no man. He’s going to have to come out there and line up on me, or however it goes. He’s got to play us this year.”

Aside from that, Ramsey didn’t offer much regarding Sunday. Nor would he have been expected to. Asked if he thought he might cover Gronkowski – as some have speculated – he was noncommittal.

“I’m going to go out there and do whatever coach asks me to do,” Ramsey said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m very confident in all of my teammates on the defensive side of the ball. Whoever goes against him, I’m very confident they’ll hold it down.

“I’ll do my job and hold it down when I’m there.”

So, Ramsey’s pre-Patriots media availability essentially was like so many of his media availabilities. He was insightful if you were willing to listen. He spoke of his respect for the game. He was patient with some questions and not as much with others. He was a little standoffish at times and he also understandably seemed – as he often does in this setting – somewhat bemused at the silliness of what inarguably often is an inherently silly process.

Mostly on Thursday, he was entertaining. And honest. As usual.

And so long as he stays that way – and it’s hard to imagine him not staying that way – these Thursday media availabilities are going to be well worth watching.

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