Your favorite pro athlete has a favorite pro athlete — that person can bring even a staunch competitor back to the feeling of being a fan.
Linebacker Patrick Queen experienced one of those moments Sunday morning as he prepared to take on the Cleveland Browns. Shortly before the game, while he was in the locker room, a friend texted him to tell him that LeBron James had mentioned his name while making NFL predictions on Instagram Live.
He admitted that the Queen had almost lost her mind.
“I thought, ‘No way.’ I was like, ‘You’re just kidding me now,’” he said. “But I recorded it and sent it to me and it was just (James) saying my name. Yeah, he was talking about football, but when he says the names of two guys on the same team, you think, ‘Well, that’s crazy.’ “Of all the people in the world, it had to be him. “
This reference is relatively innocuous. “Baltimore’s defense is always going to be tough — any time you’re looking at Roquan Smith, Patrick Quinn and those guys on defense,” the 38-year-old Lakers star said.
But the fact that James called him out means the world to the Queen. He wore James’ No. 23 jersey when he was in middle school and bought a pair of James’ signature Nike shoes every year. James’ 21-year NBA career almost covers the 24-year-old Queen’s life, but he has followed James through Cleveland, Miami, and now Los Angeles: “Absolutely a huge fan of LeBron.”
Quinn also let James down on Sunday. James, an Akron native, picked his hometown Browns to win. Quinn played a big role in helping Cleveland score three points, including three tackles, but ultimately lost the game. After he recovered from his initial excitement, he learned that James called out to him: “When he said my name before the game, I was running around the locker room like, ‘Man, This is crazy!'” And then I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta get ready for the game. ‘”
Quinn suddenly realized that he might be able to arrange a meeting with James if he wanted to. Teammate Odell Beckham Jr. is a friend of James, and the football-obsessed NBA star has repeatedly called out Lamar Jackson and Ohio State’s J.K. on social media ·JK Dobbins. But whether Quinn gets to meet one of his sporting idols will be decided by fate.
“I feel like ultimately, if this is meant to happen, we’re going to meet,” he said. “He’ll reach out to me or something, or I’ll reach out. But I’m not going to go out of my way to look like a fan or anything. But it would actually be exciting to talk to him one day.”
Send flowers to the first TD
The NFL’s No. 1 red zone offense is currently playing well, scoring 12 touchdowns on 15 snaps. However, Ravens wide receivers have only thrown one of those touchdowns so far.
That includes a goose egg for Zay Flowers, a promising rookie who has a team-best 24 catches and 244 yards but has yet to be paid. The 23-year-old admits he has been thinking about it.
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“I think about it every week,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it since we played the first game. But it will come when it comes. It’s a long season. So I’m not that stressed about it.”
Among wide receivers, only Nelson Agholor has scored a touchdown. Tight end Mark Andrews caught three other touchdown passes. Led by Jackson’s four rushing touchdowns, the Ravens’ ground game has been their most effective scoring weapon.
Even though he was one of Jackson’s favorite targets, Flowers didn’t see defenders trying to double-team him or otherwise pay special attention to him in the end zone. Right now, the Ravens are facing too many threats for the defense to contain.
“You’ve got to worry about Mark, you’ve got to worry about the running backs, you’ve got to worry about Lamar, so I think they’re just being honest with everybody,” Flowers said. “We haven’t had as many touchdowns in the reception room this year. So we’re just patient and waiting for the moment to come. The running game is working, so we’re just running with the running game.”
Flowers received high praise from Mike Tomlin this week. The father of one of Flowers’ Boston College teammates, Dino Tomlin, the Steelers coach paid close attention to the receiver, whom he called “fearless.”
“He won’t be intimidated,” Tomlin added. “He was very scrappy and competitive in every situation. I honestly never saw him back down.”
Flowers got to know Tomlin well from BC games, NFL combine scrimmages and other friendlies. Sunday will be the first time Tomlin is considered an enemy. But he still took his hat off to the kind words.
“He just respects guys who play hard and has a lot of respect and passion for the game,” Flowers said of Tomlin. “So I respect what he said and I appreciate that – especially coming from him.”