Hail to the underdog


Scene: NYC Sports Bar in 2007

Me: Who the hell was that?

Some Drunk: That’s Fred Jackson.

Me: Kirby Jackson?

Some Drunk: No, Fred Jackson from Coe College.

Me: Where the hell is Coe College?

Some Drunk: I don’t know, but he just zipped past London Fletcher for a 40-yard catch and run.

That was my first introduction to Fred Jackson. He took a pass over the middle and as Fletcher seemed to have a beat on him, Freddy put it into 2nd gear and a lunging Fletcher couldn’t trip up the Coe College product who raced for 40-yards.

But really, who cared?

Here’s a no-named player who was filling in for an injured Marshawn Lynch on one of Dick Jauron’s famous 7-9 teams…Whatever. A guy who seemed to be gaining his 15-minutes of fame in Buffalo like so many other athletes. Just 2007’s version of Derrick Holmes and Tim Tindale. 15 minutes became an hour in 2008. That hour grew into a movie a few year later. Now the movie is probably the Bills version of a Oscar Winning trilogy.

Fred Jackson is now one of the highest paid running backs in team history. I’m pretty sure none of us at the bar would have thunk it in 2007.

We all know about cliches/analogies by now about why Fred is special. He’s the classic underdog who battled his way to the NFL after playing at some college and Arena football team that I probably couldn’t find on a map. He’s Buffalo in the way that everyone has told him about 100 times before that he wasn’t fast enough or good enough to be someone. That’s why we love/relate to him. In Buffalo, you don’t just play for the football team, you play for the people. We compare our everyday life of being a Buffalonian to how a player performs or acts. We look at their back story and try to find any sort of correlation with our own feelings. Flaws and all.

There’s only one problem with Fred…he doesn’t have any flaws. He’s the best pound for pound player on the team.

The only time Fred wasn’t good enough was when he played as the second fiddle to Marshawn Lynch and CJ Spiller. It wasn’t because he stunk, it was because he was told he wasn’t good enough. He didn’t sulk, did he? Why would he? He’s been 2nd fiddle throughout his football career at so many points. Just another roadblock that all of us have encountered before. How many times have we heard we didn’t measure up? Friends, co-workers, co-writers, Tom Brady, out of towners and dates have all told us we weren’t good enough, but in the end, f$#k them! We are good enough and so is Fred Jackson.

The extension was more than just money to Fred, it was the  grabbing of the brass ring that he dreamed about getting when he was living in a motel 6 at whatever Arena Team city he was playing for.  All the moving around and just hoping that he’d be discovered like some 21 year old actor in the Valley who was hanging outside of agencies and hoping that Ari Gold would give him his 15 minutes of fame. It wasn’t Ari, but Marv Levy had the golden signing of his GM term and Freddy got his 15 minutes and hopefully, we’ll be watching a kick ass sequel come 2012.


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