Defining Perseverance

From the time he was 6 years old, Fred Jackson knew he was born to run the football. "It's kinda just something ingrained in you," he said. Unfortunately for him, it took awhile for everyone else to see that, too.

"You kind of know that when you step on the field if you want to be a running back. It's just something engrained in you. When you step on the field all those natural instincts come out."

From the time he was six years old Fred Jackson knew he was born to run the football. But it took a while for everyone else to see that too. 

He found football at an early age, but the professional success required the kind of dedication that can leave a chip on one's shoulder. Call it extra incentive or motivation, but whatever it is, it made for a natural fit in Seattle. 

"I think that when you look in this locker room you see a lot of guys who have come up undrafted and had to work their butts off to get here," Jackson said. "I'm one of those guys so being able to walk into a locker room like this makes it a lot easier."

Jackson's football career started in the football-loving state of Texas just a few miles away from the old Texas Stadium in Irving. 

"I have a twin brother and we were messing everything up in the house and my mom was like, 'Enough of this. I got to find something to get you boys in.' And she was one of our first coaches in football. We fell in love with it from day one and we've been playing it ever since."

Persevering might be better word to describe his football career. Jackson never started a game during his high school varsity career. He was told he was too small. Not a single college team came calling so he and his identical twin Patrick enrolled at Coe College near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Fred used his track speed to run all over the field and became a Division III All-American, but it wasn't enough to attract the attention of NFL scouts. 

"After playing in college I sent tapes to all 32 teams. I had four or five workouts but after that I was still hungry," Jackson explained. "After that I played in the indoor league where I played for two years and my second year I rushed for, I don't know, 1,700 yards and had like 53 touchdowns and I didn't get any calls right away. There was a time I was thinking to myself there's not much more I can do. So if it doesn't happen now it's probably not going to happen after the season I just had."

Unsure of his future, and not quite ready to give up his dream Jackson leaned on friends, family and his former middle school coach, who made an introduction to Coe College alumnus and former Buffalo Bills coach, Marv Levy. 

"He [Levy] told me if I ever get the opportunity to give you a workout I'm going to do the best of my abilities to do so," Jackson said. "When he came back as the general manager [in 2006] three days later I got a phone call saying that I had a workout in Buffalo, and the rest was history."

Some of the top Associated Press photos of the newest Seahawks runningback, Fred Jackson

Jackson earned an invite to Bills training camp in 2006 after spending two years in the indoor football league and playing one season for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europa. He made his first NFL start in 2007 the same year he developed a friendship with current teammate Marshawn Lynch.

"One of the things I appreciate about him is that he's always someone I can count on," Jackson said of Lynch. "On the football field or off the field. I know he's going to give 100% of his effort on the field. And I know if there's something I need off the field I can call him and he'll get it done. Anytime you've got someone who's that loyal to you, you really appreciate them and are happy they're in your life."

Jackson is in position to take on a larger roll in the offense as Lynch deals with nagging injuries. The 34-year old still possesses a knack for racking up yards either on the ground or via short passing routes. Jackson credits the early competition against his brother as a way of honing his skills and still relies on his twin for help.

"Even to this day I'll call him and talk to him and ask him what it is that he's seeing that I need to do or need to improve on he gives me the best advice."

Like the advice he received all those years ago to keep persevering and following the dream that led him to the NFL and the Seahawks. 

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Advertising