He plays through dropped passes and boos dropping from the upper deck, through perceived slights and attention deficits. Even on the day Darrell Jackson found out his father passed...
He plays through dropped passes and boos dropping from the upper deck, through perceived slights and attention deficits. Even on the day Darrell Jackson found out his father passed away, he played.
That consistency will define his 2004 season. Because for everything Jackson went through — another bout with drops, the corresponding boos and his father’s death — his ability to produce never wavered for longer than a game or two.
Seven times he caught six passes or more. Five times he had more than 100 yards receiving. And yesterday, Jackson accomplished both, catching six of Trent Dilfer’s 10 completions for 101 yards. He also broke the Seahawks’ record for catches in a single season (84) in the process.
“Darrell is a very mentally tough person,” Dilfer said. “He’s a guy that has been booed, he has had his struggles, he has never got the recognition that maybe we thought he deserved as a receiver. Since the day I got here, I really thought he was the best playmaker on the football team.”
It sounds so simple, this clichéd concept of mental toughness. But it’s not. Try playing the morning your father dies and catching 10 passes for 135 yards. Try concentrating with the boos echoing in your helmet.
Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Jackson, a receiver who slipped out of Florida to the third round of the 2000 draft and into the Seahawks’ starting lineup. Now, the undersized and overlooked receiver from Florida is mentioned in the same breath as Seahawks legend Steve Largent, who needed a mere 78 games to pass 5,000 yards receiving. Jackson broke that barrier as well — in his 76th game in a Seahawks uniform.
“It’s very special,” he said. “Anytime you mention (Largent), I guess I’m doing something right.”
None of this surprises Bobby Engram, Jackson’s mentor.
“I saw Jack’s ability from the first time I stepped on the football field with him,” Engram said. “It’s just a matter of him continuing to grow. He’s done that. He’s grown every year. He’s one of the top receivers in the league, but he just doesn’t get the recognition for it.”
That much they are debating, but Jackson earned a measure of redemption the past month. He rose above the fray, cut the drops out and started catching everything thrown his way.
And there he was after the game, dedicating his performance to his father, Joe, while playing catch near his locker with his son, Jalen. Three generations of Jacksons were there, at least in spirit, and for one evening, everything seemed right.
“I’m just playing, man,” Jackson said.
“Doing what he’s doing is something that should be commended,” Engram said. “Something that makes me proud.”
|Darrell Jackson has 84 receptions this season, breaking the team record of 81 by Brian Blades. Jackson also has a career-high 1,186 receiving yards and has reached the 5,000-yard mark in 76 games, two games faster than any receiver in franchise history (Steve Largent did it in 78 games).|