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    Burwell: Vacations, Offseason Workouts Prepare Steven Jackson For Season

    Vacations, offseason workouts prepare Steven Jackson for season

    By Bryan Burwell
    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    It is Friday afternoon and this is a rare, offseason Steven Jackson sighting. He has just completed a fierce workout at the Central Institute for Human Performance, a sports medicine and sports training facility in Kirkwood, and after five consecutive years of trying to catch up with the man during the offseason (and failing every time), I have at long last landed my prey.

    We play this game every offseason because I have heard stories about his fascinating vacations and legendary offseason workouts. I have been trying for years to catch up with him in the offseason, and this is the first time I have actually caught up with the Rams star running back before he showed up at training camp. It wasn't like he was avoiding me. He was just busy. Real busy.

    Almost the moment every season ends, Jackson embarks on a series of excellent adventures that take him all over the globe. You can't catch up with him because Jackson is usually darting across the world on some new escapade that will broaden his horizons and enrich his life experience.

    That stylish old dude in the Dos Equis commercial has nothing on Steven Jackson, who just might share that billing as the most interesting man in the world.

    Over the past three years alone, he has been to about a dozen foreign countries, swam with blood-thirsty sharks, zip-lined through the tree tops of tropical rain forests against howler and Capuchin monkeys, sat in the stands in South Africa cheering at the World Cup, walked through the catacombs of the Roman Colosseum, co-produced award-nominated documentaries, studied the architecture of Europe's great cities and gotten an up-close-and-personal glance at Mona Lisa's smiling face.

    So when I ask him how he spent this summer's vacation, Jackson is eager to retell this year's odyssey.

    "Well in February and March I was in Australia and New Zealand," he says, "and in June I went to England, France and Italy. I just sight-see. I take in all the major sights and go to museums. Then I try to get with a local architect to see all the historic buildings. I'm a real tourist. I get stared at a lot when I'm overseas because I'm such a big person, but they don't have a clue who I am."

    Imagine the stares in the piazzas of Rome, or some charter boat off the South African coast, or deep in the rain forests of Costa Rica, or some desolate village in Namibia, when this 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound imposing physical specimen with his dreadlocks flowing off those chiseled shoulders comes into view for the first time in all these exotic lands.

    They have to know he's some sort of athlete, but since they probably don't get the NFL Network in Capetown or Melbourne, Jackson says he just gets a lot of curious gawks. But while on vacation, he finds the peace of mind that comes with an anonymity he rarely finds at home. "Since they have no clue who I am, I just walk around with a camera around my neck and enjoy the sights," Jackson says with a robust laugh. "I get to be a real tourist."

    Jackson's laughter echoes off the walls of this high-tech workout hall. It is one of those deep baritone bellows that lets you know that he has enjoyed the joke as much as you did.

    Just a few days shy of his 28th birthday (it's this Thursday, the day the Rams are supposed to report to training camp), and heading into his eighth season in the NFL, Jackson approaches this season no different than all the others. He balances his vacations with fiendish workouts that have carved his body into a muscular masterpiece. When you see him standing there in baggy cargo shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt, you see all the evidence you need to know about how else he spent his summer vacation.

    "You know what the number one comment I get from fans when I run to them out in public?" he says. "They ask me, 'Hey, I hope you're staying in shape.'"

    He twists his nose, shrugs his shoulders, waves his hands up in the air with amusement, then lets out a long "Pffffffft."

    "Does it look like I'm not staying in shape?"

    Uhhhhhhh, yeah, he's in shape.

    He knows people were wondering why he wasn't seen at the voluntary workouts last month at Lindenwood, and just in case you were wondering, he hasn't received a copy of new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' new playbook yet, either. But he says not to worry.

    "I know Sam got one, and I was able to get some stuff from Sam when we were out in Phoenix together for team workouts," Jackson says. "But I'm more of an on-the-field learner. You can show me something, and if I don't understand the concepts of what the coach is trying to do, I can read the playbook all day long but it won't do me any good. The best thing I can do is make sure I'm physically sharp. Getting mentally sharp will come with those grueling two-a-days."

    And what should we tell folks who wondered why Jackson wasn't seen at the workouts?

    "I think there are a few things you tell people," he says, "One: Just because a particular person doesn't show up for the workouts doesn't mean he's bucking the system or he's not a team player. Two: I'm a father of two now, and we have no insurance to cover us in case of an injury in those organized workouts. So I put myself in a difficult situation if I do that. And finally, I think I have earned the trust of my teammates who know I'm going to do my job.

    "So, if I'm missing (from the workouts) or another guy is missing, it's not fair to point out who's not there. It's not reflective of being a team player or not being one. Look, running five-yard routes is not going to make me a better player. But the work I'm putting in during my (private) workouts is going to do that. I think the trust I've built with my teammates lets them know who can be counted on."

    He lets out that laugh again just as an emphasis to this point.

    "Look, I've had a number of teammates over the course of the last seven or eight seasons who I saw every day but I couldn't trust them," Jackson says. "The good teammates are the ones who you know are going to do their jobs when no one else is around watching them."

    His mom told him a long time ago that the Lord made this great, big beautiful world for us to enjoy, so Jackson is trying hard to enjoy every corner of it. In Italy and France, he saw things he had only read about in history books. He saw a 2,000-year-old mummy, the Mona Lisa and the Colosseum, the home of the original gladiator sport.

    "And I did make the connection between what the original gladiators did and what we do for a living," he says. "It was more barbaric then, and we're not losing lives. But I felt something walking in the Colosseum."

    A year ago, he was in South Africa swimming with the sharks, two years ago he was in Costa Rica zip-lining through the tree tops.

    "Coolest thing in the world," he says. "You're flying down this line maybe 300 yards and you look to your left and right and there are monkeys in the trees racing you. It got my adrenaline going. It was unbelievable."

    And it was about as far away from those old family vacations when he was a kid, crowded in a bus with a dozen other relatives on a grueling 26-hour trip from Las Vegas to Arkansas.

    "I knew back then that there was a lot more out there that Nevada and Arkansas," he chuckles. "I wanted to see what was out there in the rest of the world. And it's also why I hate road trips, too."

  2. #2
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Vacations, Offseason Workouts Prepare Steven Jackson For Season

    I can guarantee Jackson is working hard to stay in shape. If you look closely in the background of the picture in the article on, you can see me and my brother. I'm the one leaning over in the squat rack after running with that sled! That was part of his "Workout like me workout with me" contest. Anyway, he put us through a workout for sure, my arms won't lift up past my head right now, haha.

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