RENTON — I was told by a fellow sports scribe that, in order to get Gabe Jackson to open up, just mention food. The Seahawks guard is a self-described foodie who has some savvy in the kitchen.
The interview Saturday started about 30 minutes late, though. Jackson wanted to make sure he ate lunch first.
Hey, maintaining his mountainous size is a high priority for the soon-to-be eight-year veteran. His 335-pound frame will be instrumental in protecting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this season.
In fact, one could make the argument that Jackson was the most significant offseason pickup for Seattle. Want to lower Wilson’s sack rate? Let Gabe lower the boom.
Jackson might not have the accolades that some of his fellow interior linemen do, but those in the know know his value. After picking him in the third round in 2014, the Raiders signed him to a five-year, $56 million extension three years later.
He’s been a Pro-Bowl alternate twice and was a part of a unit in Oakland that gave up an NFL-low 18 sacks in 2016. But you won’t hear him bragging about that. In Jackson’s mind, he’s a long way from a finished product.
“No matter where you are in life, you always try to prove yourself. You never stop trying to prove yourself until you’ve made it, and I don’t feel like I’ve made it,” said Jackson, who was traded to the Seahawks for a fifth-round pick this offseason. “Everybody’s new to me, everything is new to me, but at the same time, I have to be myself and prove myself.”
What would making it look like?
“Oh, man. I don’t like to throw my dreams and goals out there, but hopefully one day you see it and I see it,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s teammates and coaches have to like hearing that he’s hellbent on improving. But words in training camp are just that — words. The indisputable fact is that Wilson has been sacked more than any other quarterback since he entered the NFL in 2012 — and took 47 last season, the third most in the league.
Part of this is due to the QB’s style — he scrambles better than most signal-callers and hangs on to the ball as long as anyone. Still, his irritation rocked the Seattle sports world in February when said he was “frustrated with getting hit too much,” then put out a list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know that because I stay off media, no offense to people that do,” Jackson said. “I don’t read into things.”
Did you ask some of the guys that have been here about the situation? asked another writer. “I mean, I feel like I’m being baited here,” Jackson said with a smile. “That was something that happened then. I don’t know why or what, but it’s old.”
The that’s-in-the-past deflection was a bit of a theme for Jackson on Saturday.
The Raiders’ losing ways?
“I can’t say. Not to be rude to go back that far, but it’s a lot of stuff that went into that, but I’m here now.” His ejection last year for supposedly stepping on Bucs defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh’s shoulder?
“Like I said, all the stuff in the past — it’s a new season.”
Fair enough. New team, new environment and, likely, new expectations.
When Jackson isn’t at the team facility you might find him playing the piano, drums or bass guitar. He comes from a music-loving family and does his part to carry the tradition.
But right now, the primary focus is on football.
Saturday, Jackson was asked if he sees himself as underrated given the lack of Pro Bowl or All-Pro selections throughout his career. He didn’t seem concerned about that.
“Ultimately, I want to win,” Jackson said. “If that (a Pro Bowl) comes, hallelujah.”