After 10,135 yards and eight consecutive 1,000-yard season, Steven Jackson considered pulling a “Barry Sanders.”
While Sanders walked away from the game still an elite running back, he is considered one of the greats of all-time. Jackson isn’t quite in that realm but he gave consideration to retiring after voiding the final year of his contract with the St. Louis Rams.
“I was thinking about maybe retiring,” said Jackson said, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of 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.”
The Falcons are elated Jackson vowed to keep running, signing a $12 million, three-year contract that includes $4 million guaranteed. It’s not a blockbuster deal but it is difficult for running backs to get paid in the marketplace. Now, he’s gone to a team that will be a bona fide contender in the NFC this coming season, a club that was minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl. He’s also comfortable sharing some of the workload with Jacquizz Rodgers.
“The philosophy and what coach (Mike) Smith brings, it just really made a lot of sense,” Jackson said. “It looked like a marriage that was meant to happen.
“Early in my career, I took great pride in being in the bell cow, the one guy that you could always depend on. 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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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune