Gabe Jackson, underrated for much of his football career, just became appreciated for how good he really is.
Here’s appreciation: The Oakland Raiders have agreed to pay him $56 million over the next five seasons. That’s $11.2 million per year. That’s $933,000 per month, $700,000 per regular season game.
That’s also $164,706 per pound, which is a lot even considering that Gabe Jackson, from Amite County by way of Mississippi State, weighs 340.
Yes, the Oakland Raiders appreciate Jackson, the 25-year-old human bulldozer, once considered either a two-star or three-star college prospect and a player who lasted until the 66th pick (third round) of the NFL Draft.
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All his career, until now, Jackson has been underrated, and to hear him tell it, that’s never bothered him one bit. Gabe Jackson is as unassuming as he is large, and he stands 6 feet, 4 inches and has arms the size of most people’s legs.
We caught up with Jackson over the weekend in Los Angeles where he was attending a teammate’s wedding.
“That’s always been fine with me,” Jackson said of playing for so long out of the limelight. “It’s always made me hungrier to succeed, especially when I knew what I could do. It has made me work harder.”
Jackson’s father, The Reverend Charles Jackson of Mizpeh Full Gospel Church in Magnolia, has always known his son — Gabriel, he calls him — had a chance to be special. And Rev. Jackson, a former Mississippi Valley State football standout, coached his son in high school at Amite County High School.
“I knew Gabriel’s potential,” Rev. Jackson says. “I knew he had the ability and the size. I coached for 31 years and coached a lot of great football players.”
But the elder Jackson also knows that uncommon size, strength and ability don’t always equate to greatness.
“I’ve had two other offensive linemen that had that same kind of potential,” Rev. Jackson says. “Drug addiction got in one of them’s way and he couldn’t beat it. The other got his shoulder hurt and was never the same. I am thankful, number one, for what the Lord has done for Gabriel.”
Rev. Jackson wondered why the various college recruiting rating services didn’t rank his son higher. And he says he was shocked “when Gabriel didn’t go in the first round of the draft, because he should have.”
And that’s what makes the father so proud of his son now.
“All it did was push him to work that much harder, become that much more aggressive. I knew how good he could be. Mississippi State knew how good he could be. And Gabriel knew how good he could be. Now, I think everybody knows.”
Carr’s stamp of approval
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, for certain, knows how valuable Gabe Jackson is. When Carr recently signed a five-year, $125 million contract, he reportedly left some money on the table. Carr, according to his brother, told the Raiders to use the extra money to secure Jackson to a contract of the same duration.
And that’s just what happened.
“Derek told me a long time ago, that’s what he wanted to happen and he would do what it took,” Gabe Jackson says. “That’s the kind of player he is. He’s an unselfish, team-oriented guy.”
Perhaps, but Carr also knows where his bread is buttered. He knows who has got his back – and his front – for that matter. As bodyguards go, Gabe Jackson is about as good as you can have.
And now, he is being paid like it.
Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.