Fred Jackson is not just a hard worker but a fine player. It’s nice to see anyone exert himself. The true blessing is someone talented applying what he possesses effectively. Fans are supposed to cheer for the team to get better at training camp. Any player who furthers that goal is on our side. At the same time, everyone roots for the most Bills-like player in recent memory. The man who’s third all-time in rushing for this franchise will remain there for awhile unless LeSean McCoy delights us by going crazy. Occasional snaps can be a worthwhile goal for Jackson in 2015, especially for someone who’s already given Buffalo so much.
This is the most important summer in Pittsford for Jackson since the one where he willed himself from Division III into the AFC East Division. We want the party to continue not merely because we revere him as a person, although I still look forward to being his BFF. More importantly, Jackson deserves the team success he hasn’t yet experienced.
The Coe man is a senior citizen by running back standards at the hoary age of 34. But every obligatory acknowledgment of his birthdate comes with the qualification that he eased into his career’s start. The late bloomer comes with low wear and tear, typified by how he only had 141 rushing attempts in scaled-back usage last year. Those got him to 1,279 handoffs over his career’s course. By contrast, McCoy has 1,461. Of course, the newest rusher is an otherworldly talent being paid starter money for good reason. But we can still heed the wisdom of our elders by rotating in the emblematic Buffalo guy.
Jackson admirably adapts to any role. Personally, I’ve always been partial to role players for some reason that I’m sure has nothing to do with being the sort who joins a website’s staff rather than starting one. As the president of the Put Steve Tasker in the Hall of Fame Right Now Society, I’ve always personally appreciated players who’ve thrived at a specific assignment. In that regard, Jackson is an ultimate niche back. He’s started when called upon and waited on the sidelines when he wasn’t. That’s everything for which you can ask.
The game is liberating for players who can accept a limited role. That doesn’t just apply to hard-working backups, although I can blather at length why it’s great to have solid guys like Josh Stamer as part of this franchise. From knowing when to outrun or smash foes to taking on defenders when he doesn’t get the ball, addressing that play’s task is what makes watching Jackson still motor so satisfying.
The Bills have a third-down solution if that’s the equation that needs solving. Scaling back near his football career’s twilight would providentially make him a nice fit. He’s already known to pass protect in a manner for which McCoy is not particularly renowned. Yet one more coaching staff will hopefully notice he’s a proficient quarterback protector who doubles as a threat on the draw.
We respect athletes who display qualities worth copying. Jackson employs an innately irrepressible style which is a good example for any career. Seeing him participate when needed has been something to cherish. Fans who note his palpable zeal hope to emulate it. Camp is about cheering for the best players to make the roster. But his is a case where fans cheer for someone particular.
If you’re sick of envying fans who know what it’s like to care about a game after the calendar change, imagine how the Bills who’ve busted their tails have felt. Well, they’ve been getting paid this whole time. Still, it’s no fun to work for the equivalent of RC Cola even if you like your product. He’s had to cope with playoff banishment as long as Kyle Williams, who I’m going to go ahead and pencil into a roster spot. Factors outside any individual’s effort affect football more than most sports. These long-suffering players deserve to not have any more sweat wasted.
It’d be nice to write a story about the Bills with a happy ending, even if just for the change of pace. The modest achievement of making the playoffs would be a satisfying conclusion, although there’s no reason a mere appearance has to be this season’s final chapter. Concurrently, we dream of at least one more year from the second-best rushing Fred in league history. Backers want the best players to be with the team next month while hoping Jackson is one of them. Cheering for him is the same as cheering for the Bills. He won’t presume he’ll dress for the opener, as that’s never been his style. But we can advocate for it. Consider it good practice for hoping he’s back in 2016 and beyond.