this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Canton, Ohio -- Dallas Cowboys' running back Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career-leading rusher, remembered Friday a few run-ins he had with former New Orleans Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson. Scott Heckel/The Associated Press Rickey Jackson will be enshrined into the Pro ...
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|08-07-2010, 07:14 PM||#1|
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Canton, Ohio -- Dallas Cowboys' running back Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career-leading rusher, remembered Friday a few run-ins he had with former New Orleans Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson.
Scott Heckel/The Associated Press
Rickey Jackson will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson will introduce him.
"Rickey Jackson was a very good football player," Smith said, recalling the days of the famed "Dome Patrol" linebacking group of Jackson, the late Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson and Pat Swilling. "Those boys wreaked havoc. They didn't have a very strong secondary, but why would you need it when you have a very, very strong front seven? That's what they had in New Orleans.
"We prepared for him. . . . We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we played the New Orleans Saints. Rickey Jackson was a force to be reckoned with."
Today in ceremonies at Fawcett Stadium, adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jackson, along with Smith and five others, will be inducted into the shrine in the city of pro football's birth, becoming the first player who spent the bulk of his career with the Saints to be so honored.
As he has navigated through myriad personal appearances and autograph sessions in the days and months leading up to this evening's enshrinement ceremony, Jackson has said the magnitude, and reality, of his pending induction had not yet quite sunk in.
But Friday night, as he received the recognizable gold jacket, emblematic of a player's enshrinement, Jackson realized he was in fact a Hall of Famer.
"It means a whole lot; it means that you're with an elite group, one of the best in the world," Jackson said Friday. "You've been working all your career trying to get there, and you finally get a chance to get there. It's getting closer and closer."
On Friday at midday, Jackson, who's in the Class of 2010 with Smith, San Francisco 49ers receiver Jerry Rice, Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle John Randle, Washington Redskins guard Russ Grimm (a college teammate of Jackson at Pitt), Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little and Detroit Lions defensive back Dick LeBeau, joined his fellow inductees and numerous Hall of Fame alumni at the Nitschke Luncheon at the Glenmoor Country Club.
It's an opportunity for the old-timers to reminisce, welcome the new group of enshrines, and, for Los Angeles Rams defensive end David "Deacon" Jones, the man credited with coining the term "sack," provide a little rookie hazing.
"I was looking at those guys talking, looking at them, talking about the fraternity you're joining," Jackson said. "It gives you a little more enlightenment about what you're getting into.
"My thing is, listening to Deacon Jones and those guys, seeing how they feel about the fraternity you're going into, it makes you have another feeling about it. It has started hitting me today. I was one of the guys that Deac was targeting and jumping on. Every year he finds someone to jump on. He played defense, I played defense. He's a tough guy. I'm a tough guy. So he felt like, 'I'll initiate the rookie. I'll get Rickey Jackson.' "
But Jackson's lifetime statistics -- including 128 career sacks, 10th all-time and third at the time of his retirement after the 1995 season -- rank him with any of his contemporaries who already wear the gold jacket.
"There was a case that I might have had (a chip) on my shoulder," Jackson said of the years it took his abilities to be recognized -- he was voted into the Hall of Fame in February, the day before the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. "But this really kept me a little calm. Me being a rookie, and hearing what a lot of rookies go through, when I came to the Saints I was good enough that I didn't have to worry about the veterans or anything like that.
"This was the first time I really felt like a rookie a little bit. Deac kind of jumped on me in front of everybody quite a bit. I took it. But it was kind of hard to take. Deacon Jones, he's all right. I let it slide a little bit, but he was really messing with the wrong one.
When he got a chance to get the mic, he started ribbing me a little bit. But we've been together over the years a lot, and he knew I was going to get in one day. We had a good time."
Today, Saints owner Tom Benson will present Jackson for induction inside the stadium, the culmination of a journey that began in 1981 when the Saints made Jackson a second-round draft choice.
Jones also ribbed Jackson, and many of the others, about whether they would break down during their acceptance speech.
Jackson, as tough as they come on the football field -- he never taped his ankles, wore thigh or knee pads and missed just two games with a non-football related injury -- admitted he may get emotional at the thought of someone who's not here this weekend: his late mother, Leila Pearl Jones Lawson.
"I let him know I'm as tough as they come," Jackson said of Jones' chiding. "I don't worry about that kind of stuff. Deac said everybody is going to cry. I might bring a little tear for my mother. But otherwise, I know I won't have any tears.
"But her missing what I'm into," Jackson said, "and what I'm going through now, I'll feel that a little bit."