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  • Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason

    Jackson Energized by Adventurous Offseason
    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Lying on an operating table following back surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in early April, Steven Jackson couldn’t help but let his mind drift to the idea of football mortality.

    In his six years in the NFL, Jackson had never suffered an injury serious enough that he had to undergo offseason surgery let alone feel any pain of any kind that extended beyond a normal three to four week rest period in January.

    But for the first time, Jackson was going to have an offseason quite different from any of his previous ones.

    It was then and there that Jackson decided to cut it loose and take a different approach to how he’d spend his summer vacation.

    “I had uncertainty in my health for the majority of the offseason and was not really enjoying myself,” Jackson said. “It allowed me to really think about the NFL and sometimes you think you can play this game forever. It was a reality check, one that I was probably taking for granted because I have always been healthy for the most part. This time I had to rehab, go through the operation. I was constantly working and not enjoying myself in my down time. Once the back was feeling good and I was feeling physically fit, I wanted to take advantage of my opportunities to enjoy myself.”

    OUTSIDE THE LINES

    Each offseason, Jackson makes it a point to try to see at least one new country, if not more. Long before the surgery, Jackson had already planned to venture to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.

    In addition to South Africa, he’d also planned to make stops in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. Along the way, Jackson initially figured he’d see the historical sites, tour the land and sample the local food.

    At some point during the back issues, Jackson morphed into the Vinnie Chase character from Entourage who used a back injury of his own to develop a desire for thrill seeking adventures.

    So Jackson called his travel agent and added shark diving, three safaris and sand dune hikes to his itinerary.

    “I just kind of wanted to go into overcoming fears and living outside the lines and boundaries,” Jackson said. “You hear people all the time say that your mind traps you in fear. I kind of tried to step outside of myself and mimic somewhat of a daredevil. This year, I told my travel agent ‘let’s walk on the wild side a little bit.’”

    Of all of the heart pounding exploits on his trip, it was the first one that really set the tone.

    On his first day in Cape Town, Jackson hopped on a boat and was ferried to an area known as Seal Island, where great white sharks are known to congregate in large groups.

    After a bit of trepidation, Jackson climbed into a cage, was hooked up to an oxygen tank and was lowered 10 feet into the water. For the next 20 minutes, Jackson found himself surrounded by one of the world’s most notorious predators. And for as intimidating as the sharks, including an 18-footer, were up close, it was when they were nowhere to be found that Jackson found himself the most intimidated.

    “The scariest part of it is when he disappears and you lose sight of him in the water,” Jackson said. “When he’s actually swimming in front of you he’s kind of lethargic, his tail swings back and forth slowly. You are kind of just in awe when you look at him. You forget time and everything just moves really slow motion. Then when he disappears it’s like a thousand miles per hour.”

    LESSONS LEARNED

    When Jackson wasn’t challenging himself to step outside his comfort zone, he was busy finding ways to deepen his perspective of the world in more ways than one.

    Growing up in a solid, middle class neighborhood in Las Vegas, Jackson rarely wanted anything and playing sports left little room to understand many of the struggles his parents had gone through to put the family in such a secure position.

    Steve and Brenda Jackson grew up in Warren, Arkansas, where segregation was still the order of the day and integration was still a ways off.

    Jackson heard the stories of his parents growing up but never had the chance to wrap his mind around what those tales meant; at least not until he went to South Africa.

    In taking in the sites, Jackson couldn’t help but feel the remnants of apartheid still lingering even though it “ended” in 1994.

    “With it still being so fresh that you can actually kind of see the segregation that is still there,” Jackson said. “It’s not amongst the younger people but more the older generation, people that are 50 or 60 years old. You can still see that. Although they have made huge strides and become a democracy and living together, you can still see the scars of apartheid on them. Now, I can better understand some of their stories. It kind of made sense to me seeing it first hand.”

    RENEWED VIGOR

    Upon his return to the United States, Jackson couldn’t help but find himself energized to get back to work.

    In South Africa, Jackson attended three World Cup games, including the United States’ controversial 2-2 tie against Slovenia. Watching the world’s best players at the pinnacle of their sport did nothing but fuel Jackson’s already blazing fire further.

    “Once I got back, it helped me renew my appreciation for my job,” Jackson said. “It allowed me to actually watch high level performance of other athletes. It inspired me to want to get to that level and help me and my teammates be a part of something that huge. Our part of it is the Super Bowl and the playoffs. That’s what relates to the experience I had there. To see the excitement and unity of the country and the fans for a team and enthusiasm for a sport, it actually fed my hunger to get back to training and training hard.”

    Beyond his newfound understanding of the world as a whole and his own place in it, Jackson was ready to attack his preparation for the 2010 season with more intensity than ever.

    Because he was coming off back surgery, Jackson adjusted his diet to add more healthy proteins and alter his workout regiment so that he could emphasize strengthening his back to take on the pounding that a feature back in the NFL is certain to take.

    Previously, Jackson had run twice a day and lifted weights once. He decided to flip that in an effort to build up additional back strength.

    “I wanted to make sure that not only can I wipe away the doubts in my head but actually believe I can play at the same level and the same intensity that I had before,” Jackson said.

    Jackson didn’t just spend his summer working out to make his body stronger, he also found himself working to increase his mental workload so as to be a better leader.

    A routinely voracious reader, Jackson read plenty of works from former South African President Nelson Mandela. In his readings, Jackson came to the realization that though his advancements made in terms of leadership were great, he wasn’t quite where he wanted to be yet.

    “The one thing I learned is that you can’t lead the same way all the time,” Jackson said. “You have to learn who your followers are, learn the group you are leading and then go about it in a way that relates to them.

    “He has an analogy where you have a herd of sheep: you have to identify the leaders of the group. Allow them to lead and you lead them from the back in the direction you want them to go. Then there's instances where you have to lead from the front. You may have to take a stand and show guys that you. will put your neck on the line and show that you are willing to sacrifice yourself for a cause. There are two different extremes. One guy you might have to get out in front and show them this is how you work. Where another guy has the ambition and talent and you have to guide him from the back and not discourage him. I am learning those things. I am applying those things. I haven’t perfected them. That’s going to take more time but I definitely think I am making strides in the right direction.”

    And though he says his leadership skills haven’t been fully developed yet, his younger teammates can’t help but watch Jackson’s every move and pick his brain every chance they get.

    “He helps me immensely,” Chris Ogbonnaya said. “Jack tells me different things to look at pre-snap like going back to Arizona last year, I could tell they were going to do something in a blitz in the game and it allowed me to make a cut, seeing it before it happened. Little stuff like that that can help you get big gains before even touching the ball.”

    THE CHECKLIST

    Jackson’s role on the 2010 Rams hasn’t changed much from what it was in 2009. As it stands, he’s the unquestioned leader and best player on the roster after he put together his second Pro Bowl season in 2009 while leading the NFC in rushing at 1,416 yards despite defenses game planning specifically to stop him every week.

    As if any more evidence of Jackson’s value to the team was needed, one need only look at the offense’s first drive in the preseason game against Cleveland. With Jackson healthy and chewing up yards like usual, that unit marched right down a slippery field for a touchdown.

    “That’s the kind of boost our team will need,” head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “That’s who he is. We know he’s one of our best players on our football team, and to have him out there, I think the offensive line feels better about it, I think the quarterbacks do, I mean everybody does. ... When you can hand the ball off to a good back, it makes a difference.”

    If things go according to plan, the Rams will be handing the ball off to the most accomplished running back in franchise history at some point during this season.

    Jackson currently sits third on the team’s all-time rushing yards list. Entering the season, he needs just 253 yards to pass Marshall Faulk for second on that list and 539 yards to surpass Eric Dickerson as the most decorated rusher in the storied history of Rams’ running backs.

    While Jackson prefers to focus on team goals, he does acknowledge that those records have long been on his checklist of things to achieve and hold a special place for him.

    “I think these things here now that I can accomplish this year I feel like NOW I can say I have had a successful career,” Jackson said. “That was the first thing before even thinking where I rank in the NFL, first I have to conquer some things within the organization that are huge achievements. To be able to have my name in the rankings with Marshall and Eric Dickerson, now I can legitimately say I want to point to the top 5 in the National Football League but I couldn’t do that coming out of the gate without first establishing myself in this organization.”

    There’s no question Jackson has established himself in the organization. And at the rate he’s going, he will go down as one of its all-time greats.
    The only question that remains is when that coronation will happen. For his part, Jackson doesn’t believe it will happen anytime soon, but for the first time in his career he’s well aware that day will come.

    “Sometimes you live in a fairytale in your head like this thing is not going to end,” Jackson said. “We all hope to have a 20-year career but the reality is very, very few have the chance to play football for that long. You realize the game is violent and that injuries are going to occur. You begin to think now, this thing here is a serious game. I would say it was my first major injury. It didn’t make me panic or feel like things are coming to an end but it makes me appreciate the position that I am in.”

  • #2
    Re: Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason

    Before Jackson retires, we need to win a Superbowl. He, above everyone else, deserves one.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason

      Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
      Before Jackson retires, we need to win a Superbowl. He, above everyone else, deserves one.
      I agree...but since I think he is the 2nd coming of God he'll prob last till 34.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason

        If our O-line does well and he works a tad bit harder than he did last season. Then maybe, just maybe he can break Eric Dickerson's record and make Chris Johnson's gold grillz look like bronze ones.


        ♪ R.I.P. Nujabes ♫

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason

          Originally posted by fliptalianstallion View Post
          If our O-line does well and he works a tad bit harder than he did last season. Then maybe, just maybe he can break Eric Dickerson's record and make Chris Johnson's gold grillz look like bronze ones.
          I wrote SJ39 a email and told him I hope he breaks dickerson's record. He is the only one I want to do it. Chris Johnson wont do it if I have to tackle him myself.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason

            Originally posted by RockinRam View Post
            Before Jackson retires, we need to win a Superbowl. He, above everyone else, deserves one.
            "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to RockinRam again."

            Comment

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            • r8rh8rmike
              Learning To Lead: The Evolution Of Steven Jackson
              by r8rh8rmike
              Learning to Lead: The Evolution of Steven Jackson
              Wednesday, October 7, 2009


              By Nick Wagoner
              Senior Writer

              “Our response to an offense determines our future.” – Author John Bevere, “The Bait of Satan.”

              Right there in black and white for his eyes to see, Steven Jackson constantly goes back to this book. It’s one of his favorites though if you ask him to name them it might take a while because he’s constantly diving into a new one.

              On the surface, passages like the one above might seem simple. Then again, on the surface, a person might be viewed the same way.

              What you don’t know is how complicated something or someone can be when you dig a littler deeper. In the case of Steven Jackson, a little closer look can reveal something you never would have guessed or even attempted to try.

              A BORN LEADER

              At the conclusion of nearly every Rams practice, a few players always lag behind the group on the long walk back to the locker room. Some stay behind and catch passes, others work on footwork. They all do it by choice but some undoubtedly do it because that’s what Jackson does.

              Jackson is the one who will quickly peel off his pads and run extra gassers, not because he’s out of shape but because it sets the right example of what it takes to be successful.

              The Rams have the fourth-youngest team in the NFL with an average age of right around 26. Coincidentally, Jackson is the same age. But because he entered the league when he was only 20, Jackson’s ascent to a leadership role has happened quicker than most.

              As he’s grown and developed as a player, he’s seen players come and go and just now, in 2009, has he taken it upon himself to become the leader of this young group.

              “I have seen nothing but great things,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “His greatness in that regard, in the leadership regard is shining right now when it’s not the best of times and the results haven’t been what we want. I’m not going to share with you one other thing but there was something he did that meant the world to me and I appreciated him and how he’s gone about things right now.”

              Growing up in Las Vegas, Jackson’s lessons in leadership began at an early age. His father, Steve, practically majored in the subject as a Marine veteran in the Vietnam War.

              That meant plenty of “yes, sir” and “no, sir” in the Jackson household but it also began a cultivation process in the planting of those seeds of leadership.

              Jackson learned a lot of the details from his father, things like always being on time, keeping your word and being dressed presentably for every occasion. Those little things that can determine one’s character.

              “You have to go through a maturation of becoming a leader,” Jackson said. “Everyone doesn’t have leadership qualities but those...
              -10-08-2009, 09:20 AM
            • MauiRam
              Jackson Carries Rams Into the Light ..
              by MauiRam
              By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
              Posted 2 hours ago

              It is said that out of darkness will emerge light. How quickly that light emerges depends on whether you move with confidence or tiptoe through the shadows.

              Steven Jackson has never tiptoed through anything in his life. And though it’s taken longer than he would have liked, the eighth-year running back is on the verge of delivering the Rams out of the darkness and into the light.

              It’s a task that many would choose not to take on for enduring the pain that goes with it would be too much for just about anyone to bear.

              Jackson has been called many things in his career but there’s one common nickname he’s been called that he never quite grasped until he took the time during the offseason to wrap his head around it.

              “It’s funny I have been referred to as a beast for quite some time and I said, ‘You know, I am going to look it up. What does the word beast mean?’” Jackson said. “And to give you a quick synopsis of how I look at it and how I thought of it is ‘a mammal that bears the weight of something and transports it.’ I feel like I have been a beast because I bear the weight of some tough times around St. Louis and I have carried it from the days of glory to now hopefully to a new age and a new version of the days of glory. And I have been the particular, chosen one to feel like maybe he’s the one strong enough to bring us through the darkness back to a point where (quarterback) Sam (Bradford) and these younger guys will bring us back to glory.”

              Bearing the weight of an entire franchise’s struggle is a burden Jackson has carried for all of his seven seasons in the NFL. On closer inspection, it’s clear that Jackson’s sacrifice has gone well beyond simply being a part of a losing team.

              In fact, he’s one of the last of his kind in the NFL, a running back willing and capable of taking on a full load in a league that grown more specialized by the season.

              The job of the single running back carrying the load is one thing; the job of the single player carrying the hopes of a franchise on his back is another. Jackson has done both.

              It’s a job Jackson believes he was chosen for, a job he was selected for by powers greater than a general manager or head coach.

              “I think it’s a divine job not for the organization but for me, myself because I never knew some of the strong characteristics and the things that I believe in were within me until I had to go through some tough times,” Jackson said.

              A DYING BREED

              With each passing NFL season, the league evolves and changes in ways that consistently alter the way players and positions are perceived.

              Today, in 2011, the NFL is almost universally viewed as a quarterback’s league, a passing league in which running backs can be found and deployed in a variety of ways and you can...
              -09-07-2011, 10:01 AM
            • MauiRam
              Rams camp report: Unbridled spirit keeps Jackson running ..
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              CBSSports.com Senior Writer


              EARTH CITY, Mo. -- His talents seem hidden beneath the rubble that has been the St. Louis Rams the past three seasons, a gem buried deep underneath the trash pile.

              Running back Steven Jackson ran for a career second-best 1,416 yards last season, but few noticed. For one, Tennessee's Chris Johnson ran for over 2,000 yards to lead the league and steal the spotlight, with Jackson finishing second in rushing. Then there's the team record. Going 1-15 doesn't exactly bring the national spotlight to anybody on a team's roster.

              The Rams still play football?

              "There's nothing I can do about it," Jackson said. "I know people don't notice me the way they do other guys. But as long as I have the respect of my peers, I'm OK with it."

              That's why when veteran quarterbacks Brett Favre and Peyton Manning sought him out after games last season, it meant so much to Jackson.

              Manning gave him a quick message for a great player struggling on a bad team: Keep working and heading in the right direction, Manning told him.

              "Him saying that was cool, a neat experience," Jackson said.

              Any acknowledgement is a good thing when you've been playing for a team that has won a total of six games in three seasons. Jackson is truly the NFL's hidden superstar.

              That can beat down any player, the constant negativity that comes with losing each and every Sunday. Do you know how hard it is to attend Pro Bowls or go to Vegas and hang out with fellow NFL players and have to explain the losing?

              Players can often be sympathetic to other players in the offseason. So I asked Jackson what the players from other teams say to him.

              "That they want to trade for me," he said.

              You can forget that. With the Rams likely breaking in rookie quarterback Sam Bradford this season, an offense that was last in the NFL in scoring in 2009 will need Jackson more than ever.

              There will once again be heavy doses of Jackson right and Jackson left on Sundays again.

              The good news is he's healthy. Jackson wasn't close to that last season, although he only missed one game. Jackson played the final six games with a herniated disc in his lower back. Usually that would mean a star on a team out of the playoffs checking out. Not this one, even though Jackson said the pain was "excruciating" and he needed back surgery to fix the problem after the season.

              "I only missed the Arizona game, but that day the sciatic nerve was unforgiving," Jackson said. "I really had to tell myself it wasn't smart for my career."

              The long season could have broken the man. But it never did. That impressed Rams coach Steve...
              -08-09-2010, 09:39 AM
            • MauiRam
              Jackson gets cleaned ..
              by MauiRam
              Down and dirty

              By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

              Coming off a frustrating, injury-marred '07 campaign and approaching a contract year that could trigger his becoming the NFL's highest-paid runner, Jackson learned last month that agent Gary Uberstine had fired him . Upon reading an email from Uberstine informing him that their representation agreement was being terminated, Jackson says, "I was in a state of shock. Where was the loyalty? The crazy thing is, I'm not a high-maintenance guy. Gary's done a lot of good in my life, and I at least thanked him for doing it before I started negotiating with the Rams. But I didn't see that coming at all."

              Players switch agents all the time, but because they're almost invariably the ones initiating the breakups, Uberstine's 'Dear Steven' letter took on a man-bites-dog novelty. Throw in the fact that Jackson, whose breakout 2006 season stamped him as one of the league's brightest offensive stars, stands to land a lucrative long-term deal that will likely carry a seven-figure commission, and the whole thing seems downright stunning.

              What prompted the move? Jackson says Uberstine was upset about the player's decision to use a former associate of Uberstine's as his marketing representative, among things. "It was a power move," says Jackson, who has since signed with Eugene Parker. "It was his way of saying that I need him more than he needs me."

              Uberstine, in a telephone conversation on Thursday, declined to discuss the situation in specific terms, saying of Jackson, "I wish him and his sister Rhonda (an informal business adviser to the halfback) the very best, and I really don't want to go into the factors that went into my decision. I have no doubt that he will soon be the highest-paid running back in football."

              To Jackson, such an eventuality is no sure thing. After St. Louis's disastrous 2007 season, in which the Rams lost their first eight games (four of which Jackson missed with a partially torn left groin) and sputtered to a 3-13 record that put second-year coach Scott Linehan's job in jeopardy, he sees his and his team's futures as shrouded in uncertainty.

              "It's a one-year bid for everybody," Jackson says. "It could be Scott's last year, and my last year, and even the franchise is in jeopardy – the team could get sold and leave St. Louis. There's a lot riding on this year, and we all know that. Just as much as the Rams need me, I need them."

              A 6-2, 231-pound specimen who runs with speed, power and elusiveness, Jackson took over the offense formerly known as the Greatest Show on Turf in '06 after future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk went on injured reserve with what turned out to be a career-ending knee injury. Jackson responded by gaining 2,334 yards from scrimmage, the fifth-highest total in NFL history, with 90 receptions,...
              -06-20-2008, 01:17 PM
            • MauiRam
              Steven Jackson Enters Big Year ..
              by MauiRam
              Enters Big Year
              Saturday, May 10, 2008

              By Nick Wagoner
              Senior Writer
              The official site of the St. Louis Rams - Article

              After a 2007 season that was as difficult for him as it was the team, Steven Jackson has turned his full attention to 2008 and beyond. Upon arrival at this weekend’s minicamp in St. Louis, Jackson has officially embarked on an important year for the team but also for his career. Jackson is now in the final season of his contract and the Rams have made retaining him as one of, if not the, key cog in the offense for years to come.

              Let there be no doubt, Jackson made it clear Saturday that he wants that future to be in St. Louis. “I am pretty sure we will get something done,” Jackson said. “This is definitely where I want to be. I’m playing football. I leave that to my agent and the front office. I think I have been a good person on and off the field so I expect to be rewarded.”

              The Rams and Gary Uberstine, Jackson’s agent, have yet to have any substantial discussions toward re-signing Jackson. But that doesn’t mean it’s not on the immediate agenda for the Rams. Coach Scott Linehan said at the NFL Combine in February that retaining Jackson was one of the team’s top priorities. “It’s important for this franchise,” Linehan said. “It is easier said than done. We are working on that and have had open, quality discussions with that but like you said, with the idea that we have a number of needs and areas we need to address with our team, how you make that contract work and fit it in is all part of it. I have no doubt that will get done. We recognize he is a special player and we know to win next year we are going to need him playing at a high level.”Of course, the Rams have some other negotiations to deal with such as getting top pick Chris Long signed in the near future. But the conversations with Jackson will likely commence in the not so distant future. In the meantime, Jackson is doing his best to return to his breakout 2006 form when he led the league in yards from scrimmage and made his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

              Admittedly, Jackson’s 2007 was a bit of a disappointment coming off his finest pro season. Jackson set a goal of 2,500 total yards for the season and fell well short of it with 1,273 yards. Not that reaching his lofty goal – which would have been a NFL record – would have been easy but countless variables conspired against him in his pursuit of greatness.
              At the top of the list was a variety of nagging injuries that cost him to miss four games and most of another. A groin injury cost Jackson four contests after he played the first three games of the season. In his first game back from that injury against Cleveland on Oct. 28, Jackson appeared to be back to full strength. But a big first quarter was all he could muster as back spasms sent him to the sideline again. Even after his return, though, finding room to run was...
              -05-10-2008, 10:28 PM
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