Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had a rough day Sunday. The star wideout, who had posted an anemic stat line (one catch for 6 yards) over the first two quarters, tried to choke out the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey just before halftime, then started punching Ramsey when the cornerback was on the ground. In response, the officiating crew ejected both players from the game.
Although Ramsey probably didn’t deserve to get tossed out, nor to get tossed to the ground, the 23-year-old corner had been pestering his counterpart all afternoon. For cornerbacks, pest might as well be synonymous with good. Richard Sherman? Pest. Josh Norman? Pest. Ramsey, a second-year player out of Florida State, certainly earned that title on Sunday and as a result managed to get the opponent’s star receiver removed from the field. This, of course, is the pinnacle achievement for pests like Ramsey.
After the game, the young Jaguars star explained how he succeeded in goading a talented and notably staid receiver like A.J. Green into snapping. As he explains, it was a master class of trolling.
All of us can surely take a little something from this lesson in how to be annoying. Let’s break down Jalen Ramsey’s guide to being an abrasive—and immensely effective—jerk.
1. “I told him almost every play that he was weak, that he was soft.”
Few would think to describe six-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green as “weak” or “soft,” which underlines Ramsey’s evil genius. He’s taking a Freudian approach here, poking at Green’s ego until he inevitably reveals his greatest fears (i.e., that he is weak and soft). Later, he calls the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Green “small,” thus tormenting the receiver’s inner child. It’s a strategy that works just as well on 21st-century American football fields as it did on 19th-century Viennese couches.
2. “Them are straight facts. He just can’t handle the truth. It’s facts.”
Here, Ramsey goes the Trumpian route, discrediting anything he doesn’t agree with as, essentially, “fake news.” This is a really annoying and corrosive attitude unless you are a cornerback. If, like Ramsey, you are a cornerback, then this is perfectly appropriate behavior.
3. “I told him his time was almost up.”
Here, Ramsey follows the classical tradition of memento mori. Green turns 30 years old in July. This impending milestone must weigh heavy on Green’s psyche, and, in being confronted with his own mortality, he felt he had no choice but to revert to violence. It’s existential cruelty at its finest.
4. “I told him that it was easy, which it was.”
The least we can ask for from our tormenters is that they exert at least some energy in their cruel efforts. Few things are more infuriating than a bully in repose and, as you can see in the video above, Ramsey looks pretty chill.
5. “He had one catch for 6 yards. I was just out there spitting facts to him.”
Fact check: true. What could Green say to this? Nothing, which is why he threw Ramsey to the ground. You would too. Jalen Ramsey is just that good at being bad.