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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

    Steven Jackson sat in the living room of his suburban St. Louis home Tuesday night, waiting impatiently for history to hit him over the head and wondering what the two people who raised him must be thinking.

    The St. Louis Rams’ star running back had insisted that his parents, Steve and Brenda, extend their visit from Las Vegas so that they could spend election night with him and his girlfriend, Supriya Harris.

    “Just looking at them as it all unfolded, as the wall came crumbling down,” Jackson says, “I almost started crying.”

    For Jackson and so many other NFL players, Barack Obama’s ascendance to the U.S. presidency was a landmark moment they never saw coming as kids. For people of his parents’ generation and background, it took on a different level of incomprehensibility.

    “They grew up in a small town in Arkansas,” Jackson marvels. “They went to segregated schools their whole lives. For them to experience that moment was just really, really special, and I wanted to make sure we shared it.”

    If you still subscribe to the stereotype that professional athletes are so self-centered and oblivious that they avoid politics like drug tests – well, that’s as outdated as the notion that a biracial man can’t get elected to the highest office in the land.

    Consider that Minnesota Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte called me Tuesday evening after getting off a flight from St. Louis to Minneapolis, frantically seeking updated electoral-vote tallies, or that Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chad Johnson and Denver Broncos wideout Brandon Marshall each planned touchdown celebrations (both of which ended up getting aborted) in support of Obama.

    At the Rams’ training facility, which is hardly unique, players were engaged and argumentative in the months leading up to the election, paying as much attention to issues like health-care reform as they did, say, luxury-car customization.

    “In the morning, we keep all our [locker-room, training-room and weight-room] TVs on CNN,” Jackson says. “We definitely argue back and forth, and the main issue is always taxes. It pisses me off because we have so many issues facing this country, and the guys who supported McCain seemed to only care about that one thing. Even a couple of the [African-American players] on the team said they would vote for McCain, and it was all because of money.”

    As Jackson’s comments suggest, he is a staunch Democrat who supported Obama’s candidacy based on policy. Yet there’s no debate that for him and so many other African-American NFL players, the election’s obvious social significance triggered a new level of enthusiasm.

    Again, that goes back to Steve and Brenda, whose outlooks were shaped by their experiences growing up in Warren, Ark., population 6,752.

    Steve, who joined the U.S. Marines at 20 to serve in Vietnam, recalled during a conversation we had last year: “I worked in the saw mill. I hauled puffed wood. I picked cotton, picked tomatoes, hauled hay. I’d be out there without a shirt, loading trees onto trucks, and it was so hot. It was hard work.”

    Brenda worked at the Georgia Pacific paper mill and as a Wal-Mart clerk before she and Steve decided to move to Las Vegas – with $60 in their pocket. They each found jobs at casinos, with Brenda eventually becoming a blackjack dealer and Steve working as a pit manager at Caesar’s Palace. As a boy, Steven learned to count by playing blackjack at home with jellybeans, though his parents successfully scared him away from gambling by relating the horror stories they regularly encountered on the floor.

    “My mom always told us, ‘Follow your heart and work hard, and you can do what you want to do in life,’ ” Steven says. “But even so, there were just some positions that we felt like a black man could never hold. When I first started playing football, my dream was to play quarterback. But my dad would explain to me that the NFL wasn’t ready for a black quarterback – about the struggles that Doug Williams and Warren Moon had to go through, and how it was a much tougher path.”

    Jackson, who has a 2-year-old son, says people frequently ask, “Is he going to play football when he grows up?”

    His answer: “No, he’s going to own a team. I want so much more for him than to get his body beat up week in and week out. Right now there are no African-American owners, but I’m hoping that in the years to come we can break that barrier, too. We don’t always want to be the employee. We want to be the ones making the big-time decisions and running the corporation.”

    Jackson, who in August signed a lucrative contract extension that could be worth up to $49.3 million over five years, has been banged up for much of this season – one in which the Rams (2-6) have gotten off to a horrible start for the second consecutive year. (Limited by a thigh injury in last Sunday’s defeat to the Arizona Cardinals, he missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets. He posts regular updates on his website .

    But nearly as important as his health was the election. Steven’s older sister, Rhonda, worked on the Illinois Senator’s campaign in Nevada for more than a year and a half, and got Obama to autograph a copy of his 2006 book, The Audacity Of Hope, which Steven has sitting on his dresser. Over the summer, Steven visited the future president’s Las Vegas campaign headquarters to fire up the workers, and attended several campaign rallies.

    Late last month, Jackson became emotional as he checked off Obama’s name on an absentee ballot.

    “It was my first time voting,” he says. “In ‘04, I was just like everybody else – I didn’t think my vote would matter, and I was suspicious of the system, especially after what had happened in Florida in 2000.”

    On election night, Jackson nervously watched the returns, becoming increasingly emotional as he realized that Obama was likely to prevail. As the polls closed in California and CNN projected Obama as the winner of the election, there were hugs and screams in Jackson’s living room, and tears and champagne flowed freely.

    “The women were crying, and my dad was just speechless,” Jackson says. “I was clapping as loud as if I was in the crowd in Chicago. My mom said, ‘Son, you are witnessing history. The rest of your life, you’ll always remember where you were and what you were thinking at this moment, so take it all in. This is like what we experienced with JFK and Martin Luther King. It’s one of the bookmarks of your life.’ ”

    On his way to work the next morning, Jackson stopped at a convenience store to buy a newspaper that he plans to save forever. He thought about Steve and Brenda – where they’d come from, all they’d seen – and remembered the mesmerized looks on their faces the previous night as Obama gave his speech in Grant Park.

    “I knew that one day, as grandparents, they’d be relating that moment to my kids,” Jackson says. “And I knew that I’d be doing the same for my grandkids. I know he’s not going to be able to accomplish everything he’s setting out to do, but I have high hopes, and just seeing him up there lays everything to rest. Now we can legitimately say, as a race, that all our dreams are possible.”

  2. #2
    schut39's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    That's good for Jackson, but I can't say I'm a fan of Obama.

  3. #3
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    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    I would like to post some thoughts on this topic, but I am guessing this is not approved material for the clan.

    politics.....racial issues.....not going to happen in here.

  4. #4
    theodus69 Guest

    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    Nice. what the hell does that have to do with the state the team is in?
    Maybe this will inspire him to play without getting hurt.

  5. #5
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    Tread lightly here, folks. If you want to comment on Jackson and this article......fine. But as Utter has astutely pointed out, this one could go downhill quick. So, I implore......think before you type. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Varg6's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    I think we can all agree that we would want to see any president elected to do well and make America a prosperous, and respected country again. Does it really matter if he's black, white or Latino? A woman, or a man? Gay or straight? When it comes down to the character of a human being, that's all that matters to me.

    I for one am very happy to see a (hopefully) more diverse and unified America. This certainly means A LOT to blacks and I'm truly happy for them.
    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  7. #7
    ramsanddodgers's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    I think this is too politically divisive to be on our board, which stresses NO POLITICS.

    Personally, I did not like either major candidate but at the same voting 3rd party is not really an option.

    I do not understand what this article had to do with the Rams, only what it had to do with Steven Jackson's personal political beliefs and his family's struggle through a (seemingly) oppressed life.

    How will the next administration affect the NFL, specifically, and Professional Sports, in general?

    I hear and read stories about how players (and their agents) are going to strive to get their contracts signed by end of the year so as to get in under the much ballyhooed raise in income taxes for those generously compensated for their work. I seriously doubt any changes will be set forth next year as it will take longer than that (I hope?) to get the new political machine rolling.

    How will this affect a (potential) new owner for our team, or any other which may change hands?

    Mark Cuban has put $1.3B on the table to purchase a baseball team (Cubs) which the current owners paid $20M for only 25 years or so ago. Quite a return I'd say!

    Football being (the new)America's Past-time one wonders what a franchise such as ours can be sold for.

    As for our newly elected but yet to be sworn in President, he won the election and when he takes office he is to be accorded all the rights and privileges of said office and the respect which comes with the office, and hopefully he treats the greatest office (and responsibility) in our great land with the same deference.8|
    Last edited by ramsanddodgers; -11-08-2008 at 01:27 PM.

    GO RAMS!!

  8. #8
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    Re: Jackson enjoys monumental moment with parents

    Steven Jackson, you have one more year to make it happen in the NFL. The problem with you is that your easily Distracted. For you it's another injury plagued disappointing season, and you even got a pay raise to boot, GO FIGURE! One wonders HOW DO SLEEP!
    GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT.... ALL things RAMS, ALL the DAMN TIME!!! YOU HAVE not lived up to expectations as far the SAINT LOUIS RAMS are concerned.
    EVEN OBAMA LAUGHS AT YOUR GAME! "IT'S AN OUTRAGE!!!" was the PRESIDENT ELECT's exact quote on the subject.
    The point is politics should be the least of your concerns, STEVEN you must learn to bleed 'BLUE & GOLD', I'm just not feeling it from you! You got your money, so enjoy it!
    I guess some backs are just not HALL OF FAME material. Some backs are willing to sit out half their careers and just collect a paycheck.
    As far as your career goes, Mr. Jackson, to quote Barack Obama.... "IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE!"

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