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Fred Jackson wouldn't rewrite his own history


By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Fred Jackson was given two choices:

1) Go back in time and get a full scholarship to play for the Texas Longhorns, win the Heisman Trophy and then no guarantees from there;

2) Keep the road he has traveled as a undrafted scavenger from Coe College who's now considered one of the NFL's best running backs.

Jackson didn't flinch.

"Definitely got to take the road I traveled," Jackson told me today at St. John Fisher College. "I couldn't and wouldn't change that for anything.

"Do I think it would have been a lot of fun to go the other way? Yeah, and probably a lot more money, too. But my story makes it sweeter. To go the way I did and experience that way, I don't think I could trade that."

Because of his meandering path from a Division III college to an indoor league to NFL Europe to the Buffalo Bills' practice squad to an NFL active roster at 26 years old, Jackson will not have made nearly as much money by the end of his career as his skills would suggest.

Jackson, 31, ranked second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage when a broken leg ended his season in Week 11. He was All-Pro caliber.

"I'm here now," Jackson said. "I got the opportunity to take advantage of an opportunity. I'm blessed. It would have been fun to go the other way and see how it would turn out. But I'm proud of my story."

Jackson is skeptical that he would have gotten his chance if not for happenstance. He got his break when the Bills hired Coe College alum Marv Levy as general manager.

"Knowing him was the thing that got me to where I am today," Jackson said. "It was a blessing to have that friendship. He gave me a workout. They liked what they saw and sent me over to NFL Europe. The rest is history."

(Photo: Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |