Interviews

Published on September 26th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford

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Journey of a Baller: Bennett Jackson

Former Notre Dame standout, Bennett Jackson is determined not to let the injury bug diminish his NFL dreams!

The football journey of, Bennett Jackson has been turbulent to say the least. An injury plagued career up until this point, Jackson is determined to see the field this year. After being drafted by the New York Giants, he would suffer a torn ACL in the preseason that sidelined him for the rest of the year. He was then picked up by the Baltimore Ravens but was later placed on injured reserve. After being released by the Ravens he signed with the New York Jets. The Jets waived him 15-days later, but recently resigned him to the practice squad. Bennett remains positive and knows that once he gets his chance to shine on the field, he will secure a roster spot and become a playmaker. What better place to fulfill that dream than East Rutherford, New Jersey as the former Fighting Irishman is a New Jersey native.

During my recent conversation with, Jackson, he talks about what his journey to the NFL has been like, the importance of keeping a positive mindset, overcoming injuries and being poised for an opportunity.

It’s been a real rollercoaster ride for you. Your entire football journey, not just the situation with the New York Jets. How are you?

Bennett Jackson: You know, I feel like I have kind of been at the top and I have been at the bottom. What I have kind of learned over the years I guess is, things are going to happen how they are supposed to. You can’t really control a lot of the things that you go through. But what you can control is how you respond to things and the energy that you give off and that you put into the universe. So, me personally, my family and my friends are all stressed out and probably overthinking stuff. But me, I know in my head what I can bring to the table. I’m healthy, thank God and my mind is positive. It’s an annoyance that I have to go through and figure out. Mentally, I feel like I have been worse. I’ve been worse and I had blessings come from it. I’m just working with what I’m given. I know that I’m going to be playing this year. Once I get on the field, that’s where there’s no more talking. I’m confident that when I get that opportunity, I’m going to definitely make the most of it.

I’m sure the main goal was to remain in good shape and as healthy as possible.

Bennett Jackson: Most definitely. You know, coming from Baltimore, I was healthy this whole offseason and all of camp… switching from corner to safety, I play both positions. I play nickel corner, safety, free safety or strong safety. With me, I’m a confident guy. I feel like when you work hard and you put the work in… people say, you can’t cheat the grind or whatnot. What I’ve learned is, you put in the hard work, man, you take care of yourself and stay focused on something, usually it tends to work it. That’s kind of been my motto these past two years; really my whole career. But last year I was close. I would have definitely made the team if I didn’t have a sports hernia. It’s kind of been like that every year. Maybe to other people it’s a question of, is he good enough to make the team, but every team I get to I wind out being one of the most productive players and it’s just a matter of unfortunate injuries. That’s just the sport that we play and things we gotta go through.

Really, I’ve just been focusing on, how can I better myself. There are distractions and speed bumps that get in the way, stressing and giving off negative vibes is not going to create any positivity. I just look at the best of things. Sometimes I am like, “Damn, why do I have to go through this?” That was in the beginning, but now I see blessings and positivity. Everything that I’ve been through… whether its been me realizing how fast money can go or helping me realize not to take anything for granted. Things can change overnight. I was starting free safety with the Giants in my home state and the next minute I tore my ACL and wondering if I was going to play again. So, I feel like the journey has just helped me, take a step back and realize that it’s a blessing to even be in the door. Don’t worry about what people say. People are always going to say something. We live in a world where mouths can type something on a computer and people will wind up retweeting it. Everybody has a voice nowadays. I have been well with that. I tune everything out and focus on me. I feel like I’ve had doubters my whole life. Everybody is always going to doubt somebody, everybody is always going to dislike somebody. Personally, I just take it a day at a time. Handle my business today and I’ll be ready for tomorrow. That’s been my outlook on my whole career.

When you have these setbacks, the ACL, the hernia, things like that can make an athlete give up. What keeps you on this grind?

Bennett Jackson: What keeps me into this is, when I’m doing OTA’s and I’m going through training camp, even guy that have played in the games… I just see guys that I’m better than, man. they got into these positions because they’ve been durable. Which hey, that’s a good trait in itself. If you’re not dirable and available, that’s the best quality in the NFL. I just always knew, ever since I had the ACL tear and I was out for 2-years, I was training with a bunch of guys all the time and I’m just like, “I’m moving faster, I’m strong and quicker.” I knew it wasn’t a talent thing it was an opportunity thing. I just had to wait for my opportunity and not look at the paths that other people went down because that’s their path. So, I just started to realize that my path was going to be different than everybody else’s and my path may be harder than a lot of other people, but as long as I’m enjoying it and I’m happy doing it, that’s really all that matters to me. Yeah, I could have been in a completely different situation in my career right now, but that’s not what happened. I get questions all the time like, “What if you would have been starting for the Giants? Do you ever look back and say, what if?” No! People play the lottery too and wonder what if they would’ve won. You could “what if” anything.

I just focus on the hard facts. This is what happened and what am I going to do about it now. I would say, the thing that I have kind of mastered the best is just keeping my mind focused. I’m an emotional/high energy player. I’ve been through a lot and I live for going out in the stadium and make plays. I would rather see my teammates on the sideline celebrating if I get a pick. I don’t look at the crowd. I look at how my teammates view me. Just being able to be out there and be with the guys, that’s what I miss the most. Being away from the locker room and away from guys who you share so many similarities with. Once I got back in with the Ravens, I was just locked in and when I got claimed to the Jets, I knew it was an opportunity to go out and ball. I want to play ball. I told my agent; I would rather be somewhere playing than to be somewhere comfortable or easy for me. Because at the end of the day, it’s just about me getting on the field. I know for a fact, once I get on the field, I’m going to make plays. That’s what I’ve been pushing for. Light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t worry about what happened, get on the field as quick as you can and when I get my opportunity, make the most of it. That’s really all I can control and that’s what I work towards.

As a defensive back in today’s game where you guys are so handcuffed, how do you constantly adjust to the rules that are geared towards offensive success?

Bennett Jackson: Ah man, the NFL… nobody wants to see a 3-3 game. They call the Chiefs versus the Rams the best game ever because the score is 55-50 or whatever the score was. It’s changing to an offensive game now. I get it, people want to see touchdowns being thrown now. I understand the rules are being adjusted for that. TV rights are the biggest supporter of the NFL. It’s almost like, you’re never comfortable as a DB. You are constantly adjusting, and they are always changing rules and regulations and new things are constantly being put in. I feel like as a DB, your technique and your craft can always get better. It’s really just a thing of constantly fine tuning and constantly working on these new techniques and rules. At the end of the day, you don’t let the new rules change you either. You might fine tune your game a little bit, but the good ones are the ones that are able to get around certain rules and maybe not use your hands or contact down the field as much, but you can’t be sitting there thinking. “I can’t get my hand on them past 5-yards.” You gotta remember, “Hey man, I gotta guard one of the fastest dudes in the world and most agile dudes in the world.” I gotta do what I gotta do. And the referees do a decent job with that. Sometimes, calls will be bogus, but that’s just the sports industry. You’re going to always have that. I just work on not making things too obvious. If you’re playing it smart and playing the ball, the refs will usually let you go for the most part.

Salute to my brother, Luke Cervino. He’s been putting me in touch with some amazing people and I can’t think him enough. I appreciate him setting this up and I wish you the best, my man.

Bennett Jackson: Definitely shout out to, Luke Cervino. I appreciate the interview, man. Thanks for taking the time out to talk. I’ll be on the field. It’s just a little speed bump.

Writers note: After this conversation, Bennett Jackson was signed to the New York Jets practice squad and feels he will be activated very soon.


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