At 36, Fred Jackson "not ready to hang 'em up," hopes to play again

Former Bills RB waiting for another opportunity

Sal Capaccio
June 05, 2017 - 11:37 am

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

Fred Jackson knows 36-year old running backs don’t get many cracks at playing in the NFL. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting it to happen, and hoping it does.

While attending the Jim Kelly Celebrity Gala ahead of the QB's golf tournament Sunday night in downtown Buffalo, the former Buffalo Bills running back said he hasn’t signed his retirement papers yet because he still wants to put his cleats on for an NFL team.

“I want to play, but it’s one of those things where we’ll see what happens,” Jackson said. “Training camps are around the corner.  Some teams lose a back or two and maybe they give me a call. We’ll see what happens. I’m not ready to hang ‘em up yet, but I do know that I’m 36 and a lot of teams are scared of that.”

Jackson spent eight years in a Bills uniform, running for 5,746 yards, good for third on the franchise’s all-time list behind only Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson. He also caught 354 passes for 2,897 yards and ranks fifth on the organization’s all-time receptions list.  

The Bills released the Coe College product prior to the 2015 season. He then signed with the Seattle Seahawks where he ran for 100 yards, caught 32 passes for 257 yards, and played in his first-ever NFL playoff game. He went unsigned and didn’t play in 2016.

Jackson is part owner of a local restaurant in Buffalo and says he goes back-and-forth between Western New York and his home in Iowa.

He’d love to come back and play for the Bills, saying “these fans have done nothing but show me love throughout my entire career here and I would love to come back and play in a Bills uniform. Is it going to happen? No one knows. But if I was able to come out and put on a Bills uniform I promise you I would leave everything on the field as I always did.”

Jackson’s release was controversial and even contentious when it happened. He said former general manager Doug Whaley was behind the move, adding at the time “he wasn't honest with me the entire time that I've known him. I have the utmost respect for the organization. There's only one person in that organization that I haven't gotten honesty from, and that was him."

Two years later, Jackson says none of that matters when it comes to his love for the organization, whether he plays for them again, another team, or not at all.

“100-percent,” he answered when asked if he will always consider himself a Buffalo Bill at heart and for life. “Nothing will ever change that.  Nobody could ever change that.  Buffalo is what I bleed. And even though I’m not here in person I’m here in spirit rooting on for these guys. And I want these guys to go to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. Give this fanbase something to be excited about.  Even if I’m not playing that’s what I want these guys to have.”

Jackson may be considered for the Bills Wall of Fame someday. He said that would be a tremendous honor if it happened. “Of course I would love to be on the Wall of Fame,” he said. “It’s what we do it for.  Part of us, when we’re done playing this game, we want what we did to stick around. That would be a great way to cement that I meant something to this community and to this team and to go up on that Wall of Fame would be great.”

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