Darrell Jackson, the star receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, lost his father earlier in the day to cancer. Jackson had spent the entire week up until the night before the game with him in Florida before flying to Minnesota to join his teammates. Head coach Mike Holmgren talked with Jackson before the game and told him that he didn’t have to play, but Jackson said “No, I need to”.
How many of us would go to work on the day we lost our father?
On the field, Jackson became a monster. He broke down defenders and tackles alike, shredding the Vikings defense for 10 catches, 135 yards and a touchdown. But more important than the numbers was the way he was getting them. He caught every pass that was thrown near him, sometimes almost willing the ball into his hands. He made plays for his team when the needed it. The man that had become known for dropping passes didn’t drop anything today. He took his team upon his shoulders and asked them to follow.
“It’s what my father would’ve wanted”, said Jackson.
As I watched him play his heart out, I thought to myself that he wasn’t going to let this team lose, not today. As he made plays, you could see his teammates rallying around him, almost to say “I will not be the one that loses this game for Darrell”. Indeed, for a team that seems to lack the ability to make the plays to win a game, they did just that today, if even for just one game.
"We're all very, very proud of Darrell and his family should be very, very proud of him, too," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.
Like a warrior on the battlefield, Jackson led the charge and his team followed. The one thing that has been missing from our team all year, the heart, was suddenly provided in a big way by that one warrior.
I’m proud of what Darrell Jackson did today. I’ve been critical of his immaturity and his tendency to not take the game seriously enough, but today that has been silenced. Today, Jackson took the journey from boy to a man and he brought a team along with him. For today, the game meant more to him than anyone else. It was more than a game for him, it was a dedication.
Today, he could look up and say, “This one’s for you, Dad”.
Mark Olsen writes frequently for Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.