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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An actual football hero

Spring football practice is upon us. The college and professional teams are playing intrasquad games. As the 1933 song says, "You Gotta Be a Football Hero."

But among all those big boys stands a man who really is a hero.

Meet Damian Jackson, a big burly man as one might expect a defensive tackle for the Nebraska Cornhuskers to be.

He'll turn 26 in July. He graduated from Shadow Ridge High School in 2010. He's now in the 2021 class in college.

In between high school and college, he was a Navy SEAL. Men used to do military service like that, especially in the days of the draft. The GI Bill paid for college. This also was a way to make sure the draft did not interrupt your post college life.

Besides, people were more patriotic 50 years ago. Serving in the military was part of growing up in my day.

And collegians were not the only ones to do this. One of my brothers in law put in six months at a factory, joined the Navy, and four years later came back to the job with four years of seniority.

He also did a year in Vietnam.

Those were personal reasons. Duty called. He knew he would serve in the military. May as well do it on your own terms.

Jackson has that spirit. He served in Yemen and Asia.

He played baseball in high school. Batted .316. He was a pitcher, but broke his collarbone. which ended that. At 6-1 and 245 pounds, he moved on to another sport.

"I’ve never played football before this and everyone right now is treating me really well and trying to get me to become a better football player," he said last year.

He didn't play that season. He was a redshirt freshman learning the game.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley gave him a chance. He has made it work.

"From the moment he started working out with our team, he set a high standard. The discipline he has in all the parts of being a teammate is impressive. I think it’s been good for our team to have him here." Riley said.

What did he do in Yemen and Asia?

"I was the guy with all the explosives," he told Bleacher Report.

Now he's the guy with in a red uniform with 38 on it.

Without playing a game, he led the team last year.



  2. "Learning the fame"? Freudian slip?

  3. Another:

  4. Good for the education of the other collegians to meet people from a cross-section of life.

    Another example is elderly nuns taking science degrees. When they have strong Irish accents and a wicked sense of humor, it sure adds a certain something to lectures on Field and Wave Electromagnetics.

  5. No doubt soon to be team captain.

  6. What he brings to the team can’t and won’t be measured with statistics.

  7. Read the linked Bleacher Report article for more info about how Mr. Jackson affects his team. I don't think there's another player on the team (in the NCAA?) that can train as hard as he. Mr. Jackson is the guy a lot of us wish we could be. I'm an old man now and would have done a lot of things differently in retrospect. Jackson has made a ton of good choices, some I wish I would have made. It's great to see a hero get to live more of his dreams. I hope he fares well in his new endeavor.

  8. I played football in college with a guy who had been a Navy SEAL. He wasn't the greatest football player, but he was a great guy and a fantastic leader. I hope life is treating him well.