"I was thinking about maybe retiring," Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I really considered that. ... I really contemplated 'do I continue to play football' or 'do I retire.' That's one thing I admire about Barry Sanders."
Sanders, of course, spent 10 seasons in Detroit, before abruptly retiring after the 1998 season as the NFL's second all-time leading rusher. Sanders is now third on the list, behind record-holder Emmitt Smith and No. 2 Walter Payton. Jackson is 26th on the all-time list and would move into the top-20 with a 510-yard season in Atlanta.
You can't blame Jackson for mulling retirement. During his eight-year career -- all with the Rams -- St. Louis never finished with a winning record and only made the playoffs once. Jackson will be bringing that hardened mentality, one that only comes with losing, to Atlanta, "I have a never-[say]-die attitude. That is something I plan on bringing to this team," Jackson said.
One of the reasons Jackson ended up in Atlanta instead of retiring, was Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez announced on March 14 that he'd pass up retirement to spend another season with the Falcons. Jackson signed with Atlanta two days later. "To be able to play with a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer [is great]," Jackson said. "He knows how close [the Falcons] are to going to the ultimate game and winning the Lombardi Trophy."
As for what Jackson's role will be with the Falcons, he seems to have no problem with not being the featured back or at least sharing the role. "Early in my career, I took great pride in being the bell cow, the one guy that you could always depend on," Jackson said. "I've learned that over the years you did need some extra guys on your team to be successful in this league. To be another tool in the tool box is quite all right with me."
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