OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Lamar Jackson bandwagon now includes the pope.
Representatives from the Archdiocese of Baltimore gave a Ravens No. 8 jersey to Pope Francis during a visit in Rome on Tuesday. The jersey, which features Jackson's number, has "Francis" on the back and was autographed by coach John Harbaugh and the NFL Most Valuable Player front-runner.
"It's great," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "Baltimore is the home of the Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church. It first started here in the New World, here in Baltimore. So, it's an honor to have Pope Francis here, obviously, especially as a Catholic. I appreciate that. And it's kind of neat."
Harbaugh added, "We'll see if he's wearing his jersey any time soon."
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, who presented Pope Francis with the jersey, said, "The pope, of course, he's a big soccer fan, but the pope gave us a thumbs-up. [It] got a big smile out of him ... it was a really happy moment."
Jackson's popularity has exploded in his first full season as an NFL starting quarterback. He currently leads all players in Pro Bowl voting, receiving 83,000 more votes than second-place Russell Wilson. On the biggest shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday, Jackson outsold every other athlete in total merchandise on Fanatics, per a company official.
Jackson has led the Ravens (10-2) to the best start in franchise history, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to produce 2,500 yards passing and 950 yards rushing.
Now, Pope Francis could have a decision to make on which team to root for if the top two seeds meet in the Super Bowl: the Ravens vs. the Saints.