Fan Favorite Fred Jackson’s Ties Run Deep with Buffalo Community

By now is his career with the Buffalo Bills, veteran running back Fred Jackson’s story to the NFL is one that is pretty well known, and resonates strongly in the Buffalo community.

He was a back up on his high school football team (including his senior season) and not a single team was interested in offering Jackson a scholarship, so he went the D-III route to continue playing.

Even after a standout career, and All-American honors to go with, Jackson wasn’t invited to the NFL combine and wasn’t even on the radar of NFL teams.

He wasn’t even on the radar of Arena Football League teams either, as he couldn’t find work with any team in that league either.nfl_g_jackson_200

Still, not to be deterred, Jackson spent two years playing lower-level professional indoor football for the Sioux City Bandits, and got his first break in 2006 when fellow Co College alum Marv Levy, who was the Bills General Manager at the time, gave him a chance in 2006 with a tryout.

After making the practice squad, Jackson was sent to NFL Europa for a season before getting his first chance as a member of the Bills’ active roster in 2007.

It is a chance he took and never looked back.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Jackson is a team captain for the fourth straight year and the heart and soul as one of the most respected players in the locker-room.

He is also one of the most productive Bills of all-time.

He was the first player in the NFL to amass more than 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 kickoff return yards in one season (2009) while leading the NFL with 2,516 all-purpose during that same year (the fourth highest yardage total of all-time).

He is one of just five undrafted players in NFL history to gain at least 5,000 rushing yards rushing and also one of only two Bills to record over 5,000 rushing yards and 2,500 yards receiving (with the other being Thurman Thomas).

Jackson also currently sits third in Bills history for number of 100-yard rushing games and most career rushing yards.

And at 33 years old, he is also the oldest running back in the entire league.

When his career is over, he will for sure be included on the Bills’ Wall of Fame, an in-stadium honor that pays respect to the team’s greatest players.

But this isn’t a story about the man on the field and how he got there, it is the charitable and caring person that he is off of it.

It’s the reason he is loved in the Buffalo and Western New York community and the reason he is known much more than just a guy who plays football on Sundays.

“It’s the effort that he plays with and the genuine joy that he has for playing,” Jackson’s agent Ron Raccuia told Tim Graham of The Buffalo News. “It comes from being so appreciative of the opportunity he had to be an NFL player.

“Fred Jackson loves to play football. He would do it until they rip the clothes off him, and the fans see that.

“Then, in the community, fans see him as a husband and a dad and one of them.”

Last week Fred Jackson was honored as the Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year, an honor given to one player on every NFL team for not only the player’s performance on the field, but for the off-the-field community work of a player as well.fred-moy-story

There certainly wasn’t a player more deserving of the honor, and it is one that showed Jackson’s commitment to the community that cheers him on.

The city sees him as one of them because of the great time he gives back to it. Here is a player who realizes the resources he has earned himself, and he makes sure to give some of it back to city of Buffalo.

In a city that is used to being shunned or getting backs turned on it itself, it is huge that an athlete of Jackson’s caliber would want to help out the people in the community.

He doesn’t have to, but sees it as something he wants to do.

And he always goes above and beyond.

Jackson has been just as busy off of the field, serving as a strong community advocate supporting the Buffalo Bills breast cancer awareness and community service initiatives, while also serving as the team’s youth player-safety (Heads Up Football) and fitness programs (Play 60).

He also provides twenty tickets and food vouchers for every home game to Carly’s Club, an organization in the Western New York area that exists to offer support programs to make life more manageable for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Jackson also recently founded D-III nation, an initiative that strengthens the pride of and relationships between Division III athletes, while also offering scholarships to these students who otherwise wouldn’t have a lot of resources to turn to.

Jackson has certainly earned his almost folk-hero like tale.

Just like the city he plays for, he continued to believe in himself and push towards his dreams, refusing to let others decided what he could and couldn’t do.

Once his dream was reached, he made sure to give back to the common fans, and people in the community alike, to not only help them out during difficult times, but also to leave them with a smile and an attitude instilled that you really can do anything you set your mind to.

In the “City of Good Neighbors”, Fred Jackson will always be held in high regard.

Because he shows he is just one of us.

He just happens to wear a helmet on Sundays.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.