Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Madden, Marshall, and his list of goals for the upcoming season.
by Jon Robinson
May 11, 2007 - They call him "Action" Jackson, but the thing is, some of Steven Jackson's best plays take place when the only things moving are his fingers and his trash talking mouth.
"I'm a big Madden guy," Jackson tells me before the NFL luncheon at New York's famed Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Plaza. "I only play with the Rams. I played with all the other teams growing up, but this is my team now, this is my time."
Growing up, Jackson was always a big sports gamer, even if he didn't have a favorite team to play as on the virtual field. "I was always more of a player guy than a team guy. Whoever had the best running back at the time, that's who I played with. I don't pass the ball a lot, I'm selfish," Jackson says with his infectious laugh. "That's why I play as the Rams. Give it to me 25 times. A lot of counters, a lot of off tackle runs that's how you get me out into the open field for big plays. Madden is so realistic, if you watch our team in real life, watch how they get me the ball, you'll know how to use me in the game."
Jackson led the NFL in total yards from scrimmage last season (2,334), and while he was happy with most of his Madden ratings last year, he's hoping his breakout campaign makes an even bigger impact on the Xbox 360 for 08.
Especially when it comes to his Toughness rating.
"87 that ain't tough," Jackson laughs. "In Seattle I drug four people into the end zone letting them know I was back."
First time I saw Jackson play at Oregon State, only thing I could think of was one word, superstar. Seriously, the kid had all the tools to become a major player in the NFL and through hard work and dedication (both in the weight and film rooms), Jackson has turned into one of the most dangerous backfield weapons in the game.
And don't look for him to slow down as the man has some serious ambition.
In fact, every season, Jackson makes a list of goals. "The reception record Marshall (Faulk) has (first running back to lead his team in receptions five separate seasons), the total yards from scrimmage Marshall has, the rushing record in the NFL that Dickerson has (most yards gained in a season), I have some big shoes to fill in St. Louis."
And according to the man Jackson cites as his mentor, Marshall Faulk, the St. Louis back not only carries all the physical abilities to succeed, he carries the respect of his peers.
"I watched him work and I watched him grow," says Faulk. "A lot of guys come in Steven had been my second first round back. I had two first rounders and two second rounders who came behind me to eventually replace me, but he was the only guy who actually embraced the fact that I knew what I knew and he was going to learn as much as he could from me instead of 'I'm going to take your spot and I don't want to know what you know.'
"I felt like teaching him as much (as I could) so if something happened to me and he was on the field the other ten guys in the huddle were getting a guy who could do the job also."
Jackson appreciates all that Faulk has taught him, even if he wants to break all of his records.
"I think our film sessions we used to have together, Marshall would go in at lunch time and get a film session in before practice. He would break down the defense of our opponents, he would know the personnel, he would know everyone's names," says Jackson. "I would come in and ask questions and try to pick at his brain. I knew that eventually it would get to the point where I would get the comparisons to Marshall. St. Louis puts a lot of pressure on you, so when he passed that torch, I was not going to fumble it."
Jackson was in New York to attend the draft and when asked about his own draft experience, all he could do was smile and shake his head.
Call him the Brady Quinn of running backs.
"The ESPN cameras came to my house and we did live footage. Mel Kiper was on there, Michael Irvin was on the draft and they had me predicted Top 10 and the first running back taken off the board, so every time a team would pick someone they'd be like 'The next available player is Steven Jackson'. So, 24 times after hearing that you're like 'What the hell, somebody just say my name!' It's draining. The draft is very draining I went to Oregon State University, people don't even know where that's at."
One thing's for sure, if Jackson breaks all of the records he wrote down for himself this season, everyplace he's ever run the ball will be on the map.
And in Madden 09, you might just know who to expect on the cover.
"You can learn a lot about the game of football through Madden," Jackson tells me. "The game is so realistic now, they emulate all of your moves down almost to a T. It definitely gives kids something to work for. They can learn the plays, how blocking works, what works in different situations through the game. As someone who grew up playing the game, it's actually a very humbling experience just to be in it, but being on the cover? Maybe I'll have to add it to my list of goals."