S-Jax at 30: Fresh Start

New Falcon Steven Jackson on taking less money for a shot at a ring, how he’s grown and why education is his mantra
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1. I think turning 30, which I did yesterday, feels like the perfect combination of maturity and youth. I realize how much I love to compete, and how much I love playing a child’s game for a king’s ransom.

2. I think people who think 30-year-old backs are going downhill do not know me.

3. I think leaving money on the table and choosing the Falcons in free agency over the Rams was about one thing and one thing only: wanting to win a championship. Money comes and goes. What makes me happy now, I realize, are family and friends and having the best chance to win a title. Those are things money can’t buy.

4. I think five years ago there’s no way I’d have left that money on the table.

5. I think one of the big reasons I chose Atlanta was Arthur Blank, the owner. We met for a two-hour lunch. Out of that two hours, 15 minutes were about how many first downs I could make for him. Most of it was about the things I’m doing off the field in St. Louis and in my hometown, Las Vegas. That meant a lot to me—more than anyone would think. I want to work for a man who wants to know the things I’m going to do beside running with the football.

6. I think anything is possible in life with faith and a work ethic. You can’t be a complete person without both.

7. I think the reason why I talk about education all the time, and how vital literacy is, goes back to second grade, when my teacher told me I’d never be an above-average reader. I was very shy, and I struggled with reading. When I came upon a word I didn’t know, I’d guess or speak under my breath like I was scared. At the time I was a little bit of a beaten-down kid. I am so lucky my mother and father put me in an after-school reading program. They invested in my life. And it paid off. I had a 3.1 GPA at Oregon State. I love learning new things.

8. I think the hardest hit I ever took was from Lawyer Milloy when I was a rookie. I was used to overpowering kids in college, so I was running straight up. It was a cold December game in Buffalo, and there were maybe two yards left between me and the goal line. He hit me so hard I thought I was going to swallow my mouthpiece. That taught me a wise lesson: lower your shoulder pads.

9. I think I love football because it brings so many different kinds of people together. It’s like life itself.

10. I think I love art. All kinds of art. And if you come into my new home in Las Vegas, the thing that will probably make you stop and stare is a piece I had commissioned by an artist named Michael Kalish. It’s huge, three wide panels, maybe four feet high by 16 feet wide. It’s The Last Supper made entirely of license plates. I love it.

(Courtesy of Steven Jackson)