Adding the talented tight end to an already loaded offensive unit gave the Packers a one-two punch at the position the team had never seen before. With Mark Chmura, who had become a star in his own right, the Packers added Jackson’s speed, size and power to the lineup – and he turned into the player that general manager Ron Wolf and Head Coach Mike Holmgren believed he could be.
It was on this date in 1997 that Jackson retired from football after nine seasons and a Super Bowl XXI Championship with the Packers.
He was drafted 13th overall in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and was an immediate success. He led the Eagles in receiving, catching 81 passes for 869 yards (10.7 yard average), and six touchdowns. Pretty amazing statistics for a tight end – he was the man at the position who helped usher in a new era for pass-catching tight ends.
He followed that sensational rookie season with three more astounding years with the Eagles. In 1989, 1990, and 1991, he caught 63, 50, and 48 passes, respectively, continuing to rip up the league. He left Philadelphia after his fourth year there and moved on to play for the Miami Dolphins where he played the next three years, catching 48, 39 and 59 passes in each of those seasons from 1992-94 for a total of 1,880 yards, and 18 touchdowns.
When he was traded to the Green Bay Packers in 1995, Jackson balked. He did not want to play for Green Bay. But with cajoling and influence by none other than his friend and former teammate in Philly, Reggie White, Jackson finally made his trek to the frozen Tundra and didn’t look back. In fact, he said upon his retirement that his days in Green Bay were some of the best of his entire career.
“I was a little stubborn and bullheaded at first and didn’t want to come here, but it turned out to be an outstanding time in my life,” Jackson said on the day he retired from football.
“It was a great two years to not only make friends but see how an organization is supposed to be run.”
In all, Jackson played in 25 regular season games over the two seasons he was in Green Bay. Arriving midway through the 1995 season, Jackson played in nine games, catching 13 balls for 142 yards and one touchdown.
But it was in 1996 when he made his presence known. He caught 40 passes for 505 yards and 10 touchdowns. Coupled with the presence of Chmura who caught another 28 passes for 370 yards, the Packers’ tight ends caught 68 passes 875 yards that season.
Not only did he bring his experience and leadership to the Packers, but he helped lift the Packers over the championship hump to bring the Lombardi Trophy home after decades without.
Here is a video of the 1996 Championship game at Lambeau Field … just for fun.