By Tim Graham
Towards the end of a conversation today with Bill Parcells about his old friend, Buffalo Bills quarterbacks assistant David Lee, I asked the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach if he had any other thoughts about the team.
Did he ever.
Parcells, a throwback coach who loves throwback players, raved about one of his favorite players in the game.
"I think that Fred Jackson guy that they have there -- and this is just my opinion from watching him -- I think he's a tremendous player," Parcells said. "The reason I say that is this guy can do everything. He can run and he can block and he can catch. There aren't many of those guys left. That guy's a football player. The Bills are lucky to have him.
"When you see him, you tell him there's a dinosaur coach that thinks a lot of him. I like him a lot. A whole lot."
Jackson was having an All-Pro caliber season when a fractured leg shut him down. In 10 games, Jackson rushed for 934 yards and six touchdowns and caught 39 passes for 442 yards. He averaged 5.5 yards a carry and 11.3 yards a reception, both career-highs.
Jackson, who turned 31 in February, has completely recovered from the injury and has been full-go in offseason workouts. The Bills signed Jackson to a two-year contract extension last month.
"The position he plays is pretty unique as a production position because there's no prototype," Parcells said. "Either you gain yards or you don't.
"You look at the history of the game and productive running backs come in all shapes and sizes. You have Jim Brown, and you have Barry Sanders. You have Marcus Allen, and you have John Riggins. You have Walter Payton, and you have O.J. Simpson. You have Emmitt Smith, and you have Jerome Bettis. You have Gale Sayers, and you have Curtis Martin.
"It's a production position, and Jackson produces. Plus, he can catch the ball. He's a legitimate threat in the passing game."
Parcells' affinity for any player is based on whether or not he performs. But Jackson's background impresses Parcells even more.
Jackson didn't start for his high school team and went undrafted out of Division III Coe College. He meandered through the minor leagues before landing a spot with the Bills practice squad in 2006.
"The percentages are like point-3 of a percent of those guys making it," Parcells said. "I've done those studies. It's not 1 percent; it's less than 1 percent. You get down to Division II, and you're under 3 percent.
"When you see this guy and watch him play, you understand why he was the exception rather the rule."
(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
taggedBill Parcells | Fred Jackson