Coe grad Fred Jackson staying in shape, just in case a NFL team comes calling

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CENTER POINT — He might not be done.

If someone has interest in Fred Jackson, his running back and leadership skills, he’ll listen. Never say never.

“We’ll see what happens,” said the Coe College graduate and 10-year NFL veteran. “I’m talking to some teams, seeing what shakes out. After the draft, that’s probably when I’ll hear something. Then we’ll go from there.”

Jackson is 36, ancient by NFL standards, and sat out last season, after spending 2015 with the Seattle Seahawks. He shared his story of incredible perserverance Friday morning with well-behaved, attentive and adoring students at Center Point-Urbana High and Middle Schools.

He told everyone about being a backup on his high-school team in Arlington, Texas, going to a Division III college, playing arena football in Sioux City, then in NFL Europe before finally getting his big break with the Buffalo Bills. Jackson played nine years in Buffalo, earning $19 million in salary overall.

“Chase your dreams,” Jackson told CP-U students. “And surround yourself with good people. Good people will help you get through the tough times.”

Jackson has surrounded himself with family.

He, his wife, Danielle (also a Coe grad), and their four children have moved to Ankeny. His twin brother, Patrick, his wife and their four children also live there, as do Danielle’s brother and sister-in-law and their children, her mother and grandmother.

“Every day, we’ve got eight kids in our house after school,” Fred said. “Everyone gets off the bus and comes to our house until the aunts and uncles get off work and pick them up. Our kids love it, and I love being around the kids like that and watch them grow up. I’ve always been a guy who loves being around family, so this is that opportunity.”

Jackson coaches a basketball team that includes two of his daughters. He said his son, Braeden, a fourth-grader, is playing “every sport possible right now.”

“I joke that I’m more busy doing stuff with them than I ever was playing football,” he laughed. “It is fun, though, being able to do that type of stuff now. Have time to do that, I definitely feel like I still have a purpose.”

Jackson has remained in tremendous shape, just in case he has another year or two left of football. He said he’s lucky the physical punishment of playing a decade in the NFL hasn’t affected him that much.

He walks without a limp, doesn’t really have the typical aches and pains you might expect.

“I do feel fortunate,” he said. “I’m at one of those roads now where if I do get another opportunity, do I take it, knowing that I’ve come out relatively unscathed? Do I put myself back out there in harm’s way? We’ll see if I even get that opportunity. My wife tells me all the time that me not playing last year, she didn’t miss worrying about me. That’s something to always take into consideration.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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