Bills' additions and Jefferson Award have Jackson upbeat
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Fred Jackson had even more reason to be upbeat on Wednesday.
While the Buffalo Bills running back traveled to New York City to be presented with the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Jackson's team was busy stocking up on talent.
''Oh yeah,'' Jackson told The Associated Press by phone before attending the award ceremony.
''Knowing that we're making some moves to win this season and being honored for an accomplishment off the field, it's one of those things where I'll enjoy this week as long as I can.''
He's counting on the good vibes lasting well into next season after the Bills agreed to two trades in less than 24 hours to shore up needs on offense. A day after acquiring Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, they landed Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback Matt Cassel on Wednesday.
Jackson welcomed Cassel as an established veteran, who can compete with EJ Manuel for the starting job.
And he's fine with McCoy's addition, too, even though they share the same position.
''He's a guy that's comes in and he's going to make plays. As far as myself, I'm not going to approach anything any differently,'' Jackson said. ''I know he's the guy that likes to be on the football field as well. And I think that's just going to bring out the best in both of us.''
Jackson's accustomed to sharing the load in the backfield, after spending the previous five seasons doing so with C.J. Spiller, who likely won't be re-signed by Buffalo following McCoy's addition.
For Jackson, the chance to make the playoffs and end Buffalo's 15-year playoff drought remains the foremost objective for the eight-year veteran, respected team captain and longest serving player on the Bills' roster.
Jackson never envisioned his career would last this long when the Division III Coe College product was signed to Buffalo's practice squad in 2006. He made his NFL debut a year later and has since become one of the team's most popular players because of his blue-collar work ethic and charitable works throughout the region.
It's Jackson's off-the-field work that led him to be selected this year's outstanding athlete by the Jefferson Awards Foundation, the nation's longest-standing organization that celebrates public service.
''Oh, man, it's hard to put in words,'' Jackson said. ''As athletes, we set out to be the best whenever we're on the field. And I think that should carry over to off the field.''
Jackson is a United Way spokesman, an advocate for the Food Bank of Western New York, involved in the Bills breast-cancer awareness campaign and is involved in the NFL's ''Play 60'' youth exercise program. He believes it's essential for athletes to give back.
''This is a game that we grew up loving as kids. And to be able to continue to do so for a career is something that we can't take lightly,'' Jackson said. ''It's of the utmost importance for us to go out here and give back and show fans that we appreciate them.''
It wasn't lost on Jackson that he now has something in common with Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who won the Jefferson award three years ago.
''It's a tremendous honor,'' Jackson said. ''To get something that he was once awarded with just kind of puts the icing on the cake.''
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