Vincent Jackson arrived in Tampa in March, quickly scoped out what was expected of him and what he needed to do to meet those expectations, then simply went to work. It’s a process he’s been through before, even though this was the first time had switched NFL teams.
You see, Jackson was a self-described “military brat” as a child, and he is thus well-practiced at adapting to a new home and a new environment. With two parents in the U.S. Army, he was born in Louisiana, spent a year in Arizona, lived in Germany for three years and spent his his teenage days in Colorado before heading off to college at Northern Colorado.
“I was used to moving around, having to be the new kid in school, things like that,” said Jackson. “So coming here I knew what to do – just keep quiet, do your job, go about your business the right way and you earn the respect through your actions. So I wasn’t coming in here to be a guy that’s going to be rah-rah and, ‘Hey look at me, I’m the new kid.’ No, I just come in here and earn the respect by just the way I do my work, and from there on relationships are building.”
Obviously, Jackson had no trouble earning the respect of his new teammates – he was voted by them to be a team captain before the start of his first Buccaneer season. He’s been extremely productive, as he’s on pace for 1,400 yards and a dozen touchdowns, and that has obviously drawn him a lot of attention, from fans across the nation and from opposing defenses. That attention was bound to come, whether he sought it or not.
“That’s the way I was raised,” he said. “You don’t have to be noticed at all times. I don’t need all the attention on me. For me it’s about team – team first, and whatever I can do to help this team, help this organization, help it grow in this community, that’s what I want to be a part of.”
Jackson is quickly putting down roots in the Bay area community, at least as much as an Army brat ever can. He is starting his own foundation and focusing it on aid to the military. That makes this weekend’s game particularly enjoyable for him, and not because his former team is coming to town. In recognition of Veterans’ Day, the Buccaneers are packing Sunday’s game with a long list of Salute to Service events and flourishes.
“My foundation is kind of doing its launch this month,” said Jackson, who credits his exposure to different people and cultures during his childhood travels with making him a well-rounded individual. “We’re talking about what we’re trying to do with the troops overseas and their families. It’s exciting. San Diego had a great military base out there as well, but I just could never really find something I wanted to be attached to.
“I was coming here ready to jump in head first. I’ve been so embraced by this community and this organization and I couldn’t be happier. There are so many things going on – obviously, football first, and that’s going well. And there are so many opportunities off the field with my organization and other opportunities in this community. I couldn’t be happier. My family loves it here and I think this is going to be a great place to continue my career.”