Fred Jackson signed a contract extension that will take him to the end of the 2015 NFL season and into his 35th year in this world. Many assume this will be Jackson’s final year and others aren’t even sure if he’ll last that long.
After all, the league hasn’t even had a 35-year old running back so much as suit up for a game since Kevin Faulk in 2011. Those doubting Jackson though simply don’t know his story and why he could be the first player in a while to pull off that feat.
Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News writes that Fred Jackson’s NFL career has taken a different trajectory than that of the average running back and could be the reason Jackson defies expectations even at his relatively old age.
Jackson has 1,394 touches in his career. By comparison, Thurman Thomas, the Bills’ Hall of Famer, had 3,276 touches at Jackson’s age.
“I just love to play this game,” Jackson said. “Usually when guys get my age they’re ready to kind of shut it down and not come out here and get beat up like we do in training camp. But I wake up every day and I love it.”
With less than half the touches of someone who tore up the NFL in his hey day, is it really impossible to believe Jackson could play until 36 or 37? Especially when he will continue to work in a rotation alongside CJ Spiller and Bryce Brown? Jackson has rarely if ever been the sole guy in Buffalo’s backfield and that’s helped extend his career. That relief and Jackson’s own dedication to personal health could be the difference for the aging back.
“One of the main things is I’m not dealing with any injuries, coming off IR or things like that,” Jackson said. “I had a tremendous offseason with our strength and conditioning coaches. I think they did a great job getting me to where I am today. So I’ve got to give those guys huge credit.”
Those guys would likely dish the credit right back to Fred, who’s been a consummate pro in his decade of play in Buffalo. Barring some poor luck with injuries, Jackson could very well make that a dozen or more years spent in the NFL.