Vincent Jackson, “It is one of the hardest years that I’ve 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)
“It’s an honor. There’s been some great players [that have] come through this organization and some great guys that have won it. Obviously we’ve still got one here, [guard] Davin [Joseph], who won it last year. It’s a lot of work, looking back at it, but it’s all worth it. We have such a platform to influence a lot of people’s lives in this community and they give so much to us. I’m happy to do it, I will continue to do so, and it’s 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)
“It’s a league that’s based on statistics so much, and everybody’s talking about yards and catches. All those things are fun and it’s good for the fans, but for us as players, we’re real people too. We know where we’ve 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)
“It’s just the way I was raised. I’ve 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. I’ve 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 you’re 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 you’ve done after you’ve done them.”

(On the season as a whole)
“It is one of the hardest years that I’ve ever been through, not only just statistics-wise and our record, but we’ve had a lot of things go on in this organization, in this locker room, and it’s not something that happens each and every year. If anything – [Head] Coach [Greg Schiano] talked about it – it’s calloused our skin, it’s made us so much tougher, and I think we’ve 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. It’s been pretty united throughout this turmoil, from things starting rough early in the year and where we’re at now. Hats off to the men. There’s 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 we’re trying to do and go out there and play hard each and every week. That’s what I love about this team: that nobody’s quit. It’s still been a fun ride. As hard as it’s been, with the record, it’s still been fun to go out there and compete with these guys each and every week. I’m 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. It’s a long three month break when you’ve 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, they’re gone, just like the losses we’ve [had] this year we’re not even thinking about. We’re going into this game thinking what a great opportunity [we have] to play this game again. We’ve worked so hard, going back to training camp and OTAs and all the stuff that we’ve done. It’s an opportunity to play an NFL football game, and each time you get that privilege to step out there on the field, you’ve got to appreciate it, take advantage of it and go out there and play hard.”

(On if Sunday’s game is their chance to play a playoff game this season)
“It is. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere out there. It’s a great opponent, on the road. Can’t ask for a better environment for us. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain, personally and to feel good about where we’re going. I’m excited, I know everybody in this organization’s excited, our coaches are excited, energy’s been great this week and I think we’re going to go out there and give them our best shot.”

Source: Tampa Bay Buccaneers