Vincent Jackson: Bucs Man of the Year

By Vincent Jackson

Original Source:
For leadership on and off the field, Jackson is the Buccaneers’ Man of the Year selection and is thus one of 32 nominees for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

FL: Jackson in Action 83 Foundation Salute to ReadingThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Friday that wide receiver Vincent Jackson has been named the 2013 Buccaneers Man of the Year. As Jackson is thus the Buccaneers’ nominee for this year’s NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award, a $1,000 donation will be made in his name to the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation.

Since joining the Buccaneers in 2012, Jackson has established himself as a leader in his new home of Tampa Bay. Last season, Jackson earned his third Pro Bowl selection after setting then-career highs in both receptions and receiving yards, while also posting the second-best receiving yards and seventh-most receiving touchdowns in franchise history. This came as no surprise to Jackson’s new teammates, as he ranks among the league’s best since 2008 – his first of five 1,000-yard seasons – including ranking second in receiving yards per catch, second in catch percentage for first downs, sixth in receiving touchdowns, seventh in receiving yards per game and ninth in receiving yards among all active NFL receivers. Jackson’s success has continued in 2013, as he’s had another standout year – once again eclipsing the 1,000-yard receiving mark (1,189) and setting a new personal career high in receptions (74) still with one game remaining. The team leader in all major receiving categories, including receptions, yards, and touchdowns, the second-year captain continues to raise the bar for not only himself, but the franchise. In back-to-back contests against Philadelphia and Atlanta this season, Jackson became the first player in team history to record consecutive games with multiple touchdown receptions and 100 yards receiving. Earlier this season, he became the fastest Buccaneer to reach the 2,000-yard receiving mark, just one of many more superlatives for the veteran pro.

Yet despite all of the accolades for his on-field success, Jackson is perhaps most proud of his growing accomplishments off the field – achievements that bring him back to his roots as a child. For as long as he can remember, Jackson has been connected to the military. Now in his ninth season, he has dedicated his community outreach to supporting military families and children who spend significant time away from their parents. Active in giving back through both Buccaneers events and personal initiatives, Jackson – a true product of his upbringing – is passionate about raising community awareness on the challenges that exist for developing healthy relationships between deployed U.S. service members and their children.

Born in Fort Polk, La., the self-proclaimed “military brat” is the son of two parents with a combined 25 years of active-duty service in the army. Jackson learned the significance of hard work and self-discipline throughout his adolescence, which included time spent during his parents’ service in Phoenix, Ariz.; Gräfenberg, Germany; and Colorado Springs, Colo. Those experiences taught Jackson lifelong lessons of perseverance and sacrifice, and he has made a difference in the lives of those whose path he’s walked.

On Veterans Day in 2012, he officially launched the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation to support military families, with a focus on the educational, emotional and physical health of the families’ children. Jackson’s perspective on such challenges broadened even further last March, when he was selected by the country’s second highest-ranked military officer – Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr. – to participate in a USO Tour to the Middle East to greet military stationed overseas. The opportunity was presented as a result of Jackson’s efforts to support military families, including a surprise reunion he helped coordinate in December 2012 for Staff Sergeant Austin Story and his family at One Buccaneer Place, as well as the “Jackson in Action” Front Row Fans section at Raymond James Stadium, which provides a special gameday experience for dozens of local military families from the MacDill Air Force Base Family Readiness Center at every Buccaneers home game.

The Buccaneer star showcased his Foundation’s commitment to youth health and wellness last June by hosting children from local military families at theinaugural Vincent Jackson Youth Camp. The fun-filled morning at One Buccaneer Place was led by Jackson, who encouraged physical fitness and camaraderie through relay races and team-building drills, while also sharing ways to overcome the challenges that children face when their parents are deployed.

This season, the wide receiver has tackled youth education through his Foundation’s “Salute to Reading” program,an incentive-based initiative geared towards third, fourth and fifth-grade classes in schools comprised significantly of children of MacDill Air Force Base personnel. Throughout the fall, Jackson has invited the program’s top achievers to One Buccaneer Place for a special tour of the team’s training facility led by Jackson as a reward for their efforts. The program launch coincided perfectly with Jackson’s most unique and impactful outreach effort to date: the upcoming publication of a children’s book authored by the wide receiver and his wife, Lindsey. “Danny Deals with Deployment” is the first in a series of books by the couple designed to help military families discuss issues surrounding the deployment of a parent through the eyes of the books’ main character, Danny DogTags – a young character growing up in a military family.

A week after launching his reading program this October, Jackson led a Buccaneer contingent back to MacDill Air Force Base to host a “Salute to Service Barbecue” with USAA, the team’s Official Military Appreciation Sponsor. The event was just another in a long list of appreciation efforts by the wide receiver, which has included visiting Pearl Harbor and greeting World War II survivors, hosting a large military group outing to a Tampa Bay Lightning game, and helping troops connect with loved ones serving overseas. Jackson’s unending commitment to rally the community and show support for those who serve others remains unwavering, and he continues to serve as an inspiration to the children and families enduring the challenges of a military lifestyle – daily tests the Pro Bowler credits for his own physical, mental, and emotional journey into adulthood.

In addition to spearheading his own community initiatives and foundation efforts, Jackson has participated in a variety of philanthropic efforts in Florida. From visiting local schools to promote the NFL’s Play 60 initiative to participating in Buccaneers fan events and supporting both current and alumni player charitable efforts, he continues to distinguish himself throughout the community and embrace his role as a leader both on and off the field.

The National Football League has awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award since 1970 to recognize a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. Each NFL team selects a local Man of the Year winner who is eligible to receive the national award. Three finalists will be selected, each of whom will receive a donation to the 501(c)(3) organization of his choice. A blue ribbon panel will select the Walter Payton Man of the Year winner from the three finalists. The national winner, who will be announced at the second annual NFL Honors award show on February 2 in New Orleans, will also receive a larger donation to the charity of his choice.

Photo source: TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 8: Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visits Chiaramonte Elementary School to kick off the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation Salute to Reading on October 8, 2013. (photo by Matt May/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)