Mike Preston: Death of Ravens exterior linebacker Jaylon Ferguson hits near dwelling | COMMENTARY


The dying of Ravens exterior linebacker Jaylon Ferguson is totally different as a result of he performed in Baltimore.

After practically 35 years of sportswriting, you change into resistant to the highs and lows {of professional} sports activities, particularly when issues occur in different cities or different elements of the nation.

But on Wednesday, tragedy struck in Baltimore when the Ravens introduced that Ferguson had died. Baltimore Police mentioned that Ferguson was discovered unresponsive at a house within the 400 block of Ilchester Avenue within the Harwood neighborhood.

Police mentioned there have been no indicators of trauma or foul play, however investigators are usually not ruling out the potential for an overdose earlier than the medical expert determines a explanation for dying. That’s irrelevant to me. Ferguson, the daddy of three, was solely 26 years outdated. That’s a tragedy whatever the circumstances.

It’s means too younger for anybody to die.

He’ll by no means get to observe his children graduate from highschool or school or see them get married. He gained’t coach at soccer clinics or change into a grandparent.

I didn’t know Ferguson properly.

In truth, in his three earlier seasons with the Ravens, I solely interviewed him about 3 times. But he performed for Baltimore, and that hits dwelling.

I watched him come into the league as a rookie. I noticed him attempt to play defensive finish whereas settling in at exterior linebacker. According to a number of present and former Ravens assistant coaches, Ferguson was a hard-working, likable participant who had already overcome a number of obstacles rising up in Zachary and Ruston, Louisiana.

By Wednesday afternoon, a lot of his present and former teammates had already paid tribute to Ferguson with posts on social media. More than every other sport, soccer creates that sort of bonding.

I as soon as had a junior highschool soccer coach, Richard Harman, who used to say that the one group nearer than a soccer crew are males at conflict. I believed that for the longest time, and to a point, I nonetheless consider it now.

That bonding, from lifting weights, attending conferences, working towards in 100-degree warmth and competing in strenuous conditions, is exclusive. It’s why the dying of Ferguson might be so devastating to a corporation.

There are a variety of heavy hearts over at The Castle, and sadly there isn’t any blueprint, no X’s and O’s, on the best way to repair them.

I’ve been on this state of affairs earlier than. In 2013, I used to be the coach of New Town’s lacrosse crew and my assistant, Terry Kimball, died of most cancers.

We had a sport on the morning of his dying, and one of many officers supplied condolences to one in all my gamers, who requested me if Coach Kimball, whom they beloved, had died.

I informed the participant I didn’t know as a result of we needed to get by way of this sport and journey again to the varsity. Afterward, I informed the crew the news however broke down a few instances. The gamers informed their mother and father. Some of them got here in crying.

As the pinnacle coach, I needed to solely cope with 14 gamers. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has to cope with about 90, not together with the entrance workplace employees. He has to manage his personal feelings whereas counseling and consulting others. It’s probably the most troublesome positions to be in as a head coach.

One former Ravens assistant mentioned this season may need been Ferguson’s breakout 12 months. This was going to be his fourth season after being a third-round draft decide in 2019, and he had appeared to have misplaced wherever between 20 to 30 kilos.

Ferguson performed well in minicamp, lastly exhibiting the explosion he had lacked in earlier years. Maybe he was lastly going to reside as much as the popularity he in-built school, when he broke the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision document for profession sacks with 45, surpassing former Ravens nice Terrell Suggs’ mark of 44. Those sacks earned him the nickname “Sack Daddy.”

Yet, that is about a lot extra than simply soccer. Life is so many issues, and positively fragile.

When most of us first heard the news Wednesday morning, we most likely questioned why. How may this occur? Regardless, unhappiness quickly set in, and a variety of us felt a private tragedy.

Ferguson was so younger, and his dying hit dwelling in Baltimore.

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