I happened to catch a really touching article today on Derek Jeter’s site, The Player’s Tribune. As you know, The Player’s Tribune showcases the inner workings of sports and focuses on the athletes as people. The article, posted yesterday Oct. 9 2015, was written by Fred Jackson. For those of you who aren’t up on football news, Jackson is the oldest running back in the NFL at the age of 34, and he is the newest running back on the Seattle Seahawks’ roster. Jackson is an eight year veteran of the Buffalo Bills and used to play with Marshawn Lynch when he was there. The Bills unexpectedly cut Jackson before the start of the season and he found a home with the ‘hawks.
Jackson writes about how tough it is for him to transition to a new team after being so engaged in the Bills’ way of doing things. The toughest part for Jackson though, is to move to a new city with no notice and leave his family behind. He says Marshawn Lynch has helped him a lot with the transition, but it is still hard to hear his two-year-old daughter when she misses him and says he is “bye bye.”
I was particularly moved by Jackson’s story because he talks about what I consider the dirty side of the football world. Teams don’t really show loyalty to players who have literally sacrificed their bodies week in and week out. I remember when Matt Hasselbeck was released after a particularly antagonizing players’ lockout in 2011. It was just horrible; one moment I’m buying Hasselbeck jerseys and talking about how he’s one of the greats (he is) and the next I’m supposed to forget he exists? But as a fan I have exactly zero say in how the team is organized (unless Pete Carroll reads those nasty tweets I sent him).
Regardless of how hard it is on fans though, imagine being the player traded or cut. Can you put yourself in Jimmy Graham’s shoes? One minute he is one of the top Tight Ends of the game and the next he is being shipped off to an offense that doesn’t even like to throw the ball much. How that much suck. Or how about Jackson? He hasn’t even been in another NFL locker room except for the Bills’. I understand teams can’t show loyalty because of the competitive nature of the NFL, but still it is just hard to deal with.
Jackson talks about the football side of things, but he also talks about how he has to start a new life here in Seattle while focusing on football. He gets home from practice and has to go furniture shopping. He doesn’t know where anything is, and he doesn’t even have a car to get around with. Jackson says his buddy (Jackson calls him a brother) Marshawn Lynch has been pivotal in helping with the transition. Making sure Jackson has a car to drive, and knows where to go to get groceries, (and also helping him learn the playbook).
The transition into a new team is tough, and I so am happy that these new players (Jackson, Graham and everyone else) have found homes with the Seahawks. I really want to try to be welcoming to new players. I send tweets as soon as I hear the news (maybe that isn’t a big thing, but one of my replies on YouTube about Jimmy Graham actually got picked up by the national news media). I hope the whole city/suburbia takes the same attitude and makes Seattle a welcoming place to call home. I also hope the players who’ve left (Hasselbeck, Unger, Tate etc.) know that we will miss them, and they can still call Seattle home if they ever find themselves able/willing to come back.