Vincent Jackson, It is one of the hardest years that Ive ever been through"
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson spoke to the media Friday on more than just the last game of the season.
(On being voted Man of the Year)
Its an honor. Theres been some great players [that have] come through this organization and some great guys that have won it. Obviously weve still got one here, [guard] Davin [Joseph], who won it last year. Its a lot of work, looking back at it, but its all worth it. We have such a platform to influence a lot of peoples lives in this community and they give so much to us. Im happy to do it, I will continue to do so, and its an honor I share with my teammates and a lot of people in this community who have helped me.
(On using the NFL as a platform to give back)
Its a league thats based on statistics so much, and everybodys talking about yards and catches. All those things are fun and its good for the fans, but for us as players, were real people too. We know where weve come from and the people that influenced us, as young men and women, to be where we are today. For us to have an opportunity, now, to go back and influence some young lives is huge.
(On what inspires him to give back)
Its just the way I was raised. Ive always been a guy who was giving back to the community. My dad was really big into it, he still is, and as a kid, we did a lot of community projects and community outreaches for people less fortunate than us. Ive just carried that on my entire career and I try to not only do it for myself but try to maybe bring a few teammates and colleagues on whenever I do events just to show them how good it feels. When you do it, you think youre giving back, and [to see] how much it makes an impact [on] them you usually walk away feeling so much better about yourself and the things that youve done after youve done them.
(On the season as a whole)
It is one of the hardest years that Ive ever been through, not only just statistics-wise and our record, but weve had a lot of things go on in this organization, in this locker room, and its not something that happens each and every year. If anything [Head] Coach [Greg Schiano] talked about it its calloused our skin, its made us so much tougher, and I think weve done a good job, as an organization, of sticking together. There never was a point where we started pointing fingers at each other as players or players pointing at coaches, coaches attacking players. Its been pretty united throughout this turmoil, from things starting rough early in the year and where were at now. Hats off to the men. Theres something to be said [about] the men in this organization that are able to stand up and face it each and every week and continue to believe in what were trying to do and go out there and play hard each and every week. Thats what I love about this team: that nobodys quit. Its still been a fun ride. As hard as its been, with the record, its still been fun to go out there and compete with these guys each and every week. Im excited to finish this one strong, on a high note, and move forward to next season.
(On getting a win in the last game of the season)
It always helps you going into the offseason. Its a long three month break when youve got a little bad taste in your mouth. Is that going to set us back [at all] next year? Absolutely not. Once the games are gone, theyre gone, just like the losses weve [had] this year were not even thinking about. Were going into this game thinking what a great opportunity [we have] to play this game again. Weve worked so hard, going back to training camp and OTAs and all the stuff that weve done. Its an opportunity to play an NFL football game, and each time you get that privilege to step out there on the field, youve got to appreciate it, take advantage of it and go out there and play hard.
(On if Sundays game is their chance to play a playoff game this season)
It is. Its going to be a playoff atmosphere out there. Its a great opponent, on the road. Cant ask for a better environment for us. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain, personally and to feel good about where were going. Im excited, I know everybody in this organizations excited, our coaches are excited, energys been great this week and I think were going to go out there and give them our best shot.
Source: Tampa Bay Buccaneers