After long wait, Jackson headed to playoffs with Seattle
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Perhaps the best reaction to the Seattle Seahawks clinching a playoff berth last week came from Braeden Jackson.
And if that name doesn't ring a bell, that's fine. It's Braeden's father that is the one really cherishing the Seahawks being back in the postseason.
''He told me, `I've waited all my life for this,''' recalled his dad, Seahawks running back Fred Jackson, drawing laughter from the crowd gathered around him. ''He's 9 years old now. It was well played by him. I cracked up when I heard that.''
It's a celebratory time for Jackson and his family. After a decade in the league and never getting to experience the postseason during his long tenure in Buffalo, Jackson has himself a playoff berth secured with Seattle with two games left in the regular season.
At age 34, Jackson will have a chance to win that elusive title. Having this opportunity was largely the deciding reason he chose Seattle when Jackson suddenly became a free agent after being released by Buffalo during training camp, the one remaining absence from his career resume.
Jackson and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin are the two veteran additions Seattle made in the offseason going to the playoffs for the first time.
''It doesn't come along with being an NFL football player, being in the playoffs,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''Those guys really respect it and regard it highly that they have this opportunity. The young guys, they don't know any better.''
Coming to Seattle hasn't been easy for Jackson. It's meant having to accept a reduced role after years of being the primary option at running back.
Even with injuries in the backfield to Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, Jackson has remained Seattle's third-down back, getting only a handful of spot carries here and there.
It's also strained his family and that above all else has been most difficult for Jackson. His wife and four young kids stayed behind in Buffalo rather than disrupt them and move cross country just before the start of school.
Technology, air travel and a favorable Seattle schedule with handful of road trips east this season has helped ease the separation and allowed for more family time than Jackson first anticipated.
That doesn't mean it's been easy. Early in the season, Jackson was waking up at 4:30 a.m. Pacific time for a chance to video chat with his kids before they left for school. He's reminded regularly by his 7-year-old daughter Kaelen how unhappy she is that he's playing so far away.
''To hear that and know that it's part of the process of trying to explain it to her and she's not trying to hear you or listen to what you have to say about it is definitely the toughest thing about it,'' Jackson said.
''Being able to get in the playoffs and have a chance to go win a championship makes it better. Makes it not worth it, but worth it. And that's what we've got to do, for myself, to go out and do the best that I can to try and get a championship.''
Jackson has just 24 carries and 26 receptions on the season and was slowed by ankle and hamstring injuries earlier in the season that reduced his role even more. Instead of being a complement to Lynch, Jackson was eventually passed by Rawls' impressive debut and fell into a specified third down role.
In prior seasons, Jackson would be worn out by the end of December. Since becoming an established player in 2008, Jackson never had fewer than 115 carries in a season. So if Seattle chooses to call on Jackson more these final two weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs, he'll be prepared.
''We've had some tremendous running backs do some things here and my role has been limited because of that,'' Jackson said. ''One of the things that going into this playoff run if my number is called I'll be ready. With the limited amount of touches I've gotten, it's on me to stay ready, stay in the playbook and if we have to cross that road, I'll be ready for it.''
AP NFL online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL