When the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens this season, it’ll be something of a family reunion for Ravens’ star QB Lamar Jackson and Steelers’ CB James Pierre. In a Tuesday interview, Pierre revealed he and Jackson are actually first-cousins on his mom’s side and grew up playing football together in South Florida.
“He’s like my family and my first cousin,” he said via team transcript. “We played on the same team. He used to throw the ball to me. I was a receiver.”
Pierre went on to say he and Jackson still “talk every day.”
They’ll get to talk to each other when the two teams meet in Week 13, a December 4th afternoon matchup in Baltimore. The two have taken two very different paths to the NFL. Jackson was a four-star recruit who became a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick.
Pierre was a highly-touted recruit as well, initially committing to Miami (FL), then North Carolina, and then tried to play at Syracuse before being ruled academically ineligible. He transferred to Florida Atlantic and though invited to the 2020 Combine, wasn’t drafted. Pittsburgh signed him as a UDFA and he’s climbed the ladder, now almost certain to work in the Steelers’ sub-package defenses this season.
And if Jackson ever is running in the open field against Pittsburgh, Pierre knows he can catch him.
“Me,” Pierre said when asked who was faster. “I’m gonna say it straight up.”
Pierre ran a 4.59 at the Combine. Jackson never ran in the pre-draft process to avoid added discussion about a position switch. But watching them on tape, it’s safe to say Jackson is a bit faster than the high 4.5’s. But Pierre has the confidence every good corner needs. Maybe we’ll get our answer later this season. Pierre was active for both Ravens’ games last season but didn’t log a single defensive snap.
Above all, Pierre knows the fact they’re on the same stage together tops the end of a long journey. And makes for a great story.
“It’s crazy. Cause we never thought it would be like this. You know, you just take it one day at a time.”
One day at a time. In another 103 of those, Steelers versus Ravens, Pierre won’t be just talking to Jackson anymore. He’ll be playing against him.