Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are exceeding expectations this season and are now favored to win the Super Bowl. While Jackson is winning over fans at home in his first full NFL season, the team is also hoping to court some powerful supporters in the Vatican.
The team created a custom jersey for Pope Francis, which was signed by Jackson, and the team's coach John Harbaugh. The autographed jersey was delivered to the Pope personally by Baltimore Archbishop William Lori during a visit to Rome.
"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," Lori told ESPN after delivering the jersey.
The Ravens shared photos of the Pope receiving the jersey on Twitter.
Harbaugh told reporters that he thought it was "kind of neat" that Pope Francis owns a jersey that he signed.
"It's great," Harbaugh said. "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. We'll see if he's wearing his jersey any time soon."
The Pope could find himself in a predicament come Super Bowl LIV. The Ravens are favored to represent the AFC, while the New Orleans Saints are favored to win the NFC and earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Earlier in the season, the Pope appeared to throw his support behind the Saints on Twitter.
"Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession," the Pope wrote. In his tweet, #Saints was followed by the New Orleans Saints logo, and the team replied thanking him for his support.
Couldn't lose after this. #Blessed and highly favored 🙌⚜️