Reinvention and the ability to adapt were always present in the life of Michael D. Jackson
Former NFL wide receiver Michael Dwayne Jackson died in a motorcycle accident last week, and with that, a life characterized by perseverance and adaptability ended. Although it’s sad to know that Jackson is not longer among us, it’s also time to celebrate a life full of success and determination.
Jackson played Wide Receiver at Mississippi State, where he was coached by Jim Carbody and played along quarterback Brett Favre. Originally recruited as a quarterback, he made the switch to wide receiver when he saw his playing time would have decreased exponentially had he stayed stagnant and try to force his way into playing quarterback.
The switch to quarterback was successful as he worked out for the Cleveland Browns and ended up being drafted by them in 1990.
General manager and Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Ozzy Newsome said in a statement that:
“One of the most rewarding achievements after retiring as a player was watching Michael Jackson develop into a wide receiver.” Newsome didn’t stop the praise there, as he described Jackson as being “a vibrant person who became one of the Ravens’ earliest heroes and a popular player among Baltimore fans. Well known for his big smile and welcoming nature, it was easy to feel a special connection with Michael.”
Later, he and the team would move to Baltimore in 1996 when the Browns became the Baltimore Ravens. He and Baltimore came to be one as he immediately had success for the organization, and ended up having 76 catches for 1,201 yards and a league leading 14 touchdowns in the Ravens inaugural season. Even though he had to retire and stop playing professional football because of injuries, he was just getting started.
After his career as a receiver was over, he decided to go back to Louisiana and run for state representative. Despite being crushed in the elections, he thought of another way to reach his goal and decided to focus on becoming a political figure in Tangipahoa, his hometown. Some people could have considered it to be a step backward, but he knew better as he would go on to win the elections for mayor of Tangipahoa and serve a term there from 2008 to 2012.
When analyzing Jackson’s professional life, whether as an athlete or a politician, there are certain themes that define him: His ability to adapt and recognize potential opportunities and being able to accentuate his strengths while working around his weaknesses. He saw there was no way he could have challenged Brett Favre for playing time but was aware of his skills as a wide receiver and capitalized on them. Similarly and after losing the elections for state representative, he saw the opportunity to run for mayor back in Tangipahoa and got the most out it.
Michael D Jackson showed that even though we may fail at something, there is always a chance to succeed somewhere else. Rest in peace Michael D. Jackson; our condolences go to your friends and family. All the people who were part of the life of a role model and somebody to look up to are proud of you.