Why I'm Going to Miss Fred

Image Credit: Bill Wippert/Associated Press

Image Credit: Bill Wippert/Associated Press

Everyone and their grandmother is writing something about Fred Jackson being cut from the Bills roster, so I’m going to keep this short and simple.

Firstly, I don’t particularly agree with the move from a football standpoint, but I don’t pretend to be the football mind of Rex Ryan, so I’ll let that go.  Perhaps Fred’s personality just didn’t mesh with the team any more.  A family member pointed out to me Monday that Fred Jackson hasn’t punched anyone recently, which seems to be a new prerequisite for employment at One Bills Drive.  That is of course a joke and a gross exaggeration but I did find it amusing that ESPN radio’s Jim Rome basically hinted at the same thing on yesterday’s show, speculating that Fred was too good a guy when Rex was trying to “build a bully.”  You’d think that with all the recent personal baggage the Bills have taken on, both on and off the field, between IK Enemkpali, Percy Harvin, and the pair of Florida State rookies, keeping someone in the locker room to be a role model and keep the guys out of trouble would be a high priority.  Oh, well.

No, I don’t think I’m qualified enough on the X’s and O’s to say definitively that the Bills should not have cut one of their longest tenured players.  I can speak to why I’ll miss him in Buffalo and perhaps a little bit to why many others in our fair city will too.  That is, Fred Jackson has a story that resonates with the blue-collar mentality and underdog attitude that Buffalonians carry around.  We’re used to having to work hard for every inch with nothing given to us.  The way Fred came to the Bills, unrecruited out of high school and undrafted out of D-III college, he worked his way up through the Arena Football League to NFL Europe and finally to the Bills where he had to earn his way to backup Marshawn Lynch and finally get a starting nod in late 2009.  At no point in his career was he wanted.  Unrecruited and undrafted, the second he reached the top the Bills drafted C.J. Spiller 9th overall in 2010 to replace him as the top back.  Only they couldn’t.  Spiller struggled early on and Jackson played so well that he stayed the primary back (at least until he was injured in late 2011).

When Jackson was hitting his prime in 2009, I had just graduated high school.  I was a good track and field athlete, but I was also unrecruited.  I had to run with club teams and practice on my own for two years before I was able to make a D-I program as a walk on, so I’ve always felt a connection to Jackson’s story.  Like I said, I know all the reasons that have been given for the Bill’s move, but I know I’ll miss seeing him in the Blue and Red regardless.  And wherever Jackson winds up, I’ll stay a fan.