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What Drives Running Back Steven Jackson

CBN.com - Steven Jackson is one of the most productive running backs in the NFL. In each of the last seven seasons he’s rushed for over 1000 yards making him the St. Louis Rams all time leading rusher. But despite his efforts the Rams haven’t been to the postseason since 2005. He admits playing for a losing team has been frustrating but to him the game means more to than wins and losses.  

“I started playing around 7 years old. And even at that point, you know, we would say the Lord’s Prayer before games. So, you know, it was just always association of Christ, sports, education, has always just been through and through my entire life.”

Steven became a Christian at an early age. “It was so much a part of my life. It was so embedded in me and I watched my mom and dad that through thick and thin, at every night and every morning, I saw them get on their knees and pray to God. So it was a part of our life that I understood that it was eventually going to be my life as well.”

Shawn Brown, 700 Club Sports Reporter: “You grew up in the Las Vegas. Is that right?”

Steven: “Yes. Grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, which a lot of people don’t associate Christians and Sin City together. But we have a dynamic part of the town that is very much led by Christ and it’s thriving in Christ.”

When Steven started playing football there was only one position coaches allowed him to play because of his size. “I’ve always played running back. Until I was 16 years old, I was the smallest guy on the team. So being a running back was kind of almost natural. They was like, ‘Where do you put the little guy?’ So they put me at running back.”

Steven continued to hone his skills all the way to his senior year in high school where his team fell short of a state championship. “I remember I was crying and uh as we walked off the field. Although we were a good team, I was the only one that colleges saw Division I worthy. So when we walked off the field, the fans, the family members, and even my teammates, created like a little small pathway and all applauded me. And I’ll never forget, that’s when I realized how powerful and how gifted I was in the game of football and what kind of influence I had.”

Steven accepted an offer to play for Oregon State. It was there that he began to struggle with his faith. “When I got on my own in college, I started venturing out and trying to find out who I was as a young man, is when I kind of ran into the pitfalls and temptations - a lot of it, most of it was partying.”

He found out very quickly that the party life wasn’t for him. “It was just trying to appease two worlds. And you go out on Thursday, Friday nights, you know, want to be a part of the team and then team functions, and sometimes all of it is not good.”

So Steven decided to make an adjustment. He chose to live the life as a Christian and trust God with his career. After three seasons, Steven was ranked 2nd in the Beavers all purpose yards and decided to enter the 2004 NFL draft. He was selected 24th overall by the Rams. There was one number he had to have on his jersey.

 “I want to start a new trend. And I was thinking, ‘What number’s not being currently worn at the running back position by a starting running back?’ And 39 just kept popping up. So I called my dad one day, I said, ‘Dad, I’m thinking of changing my number, and if you suggest any number, what would it be?’ He said 39 before I even said I was already contemplating on changing my number to 39. I said, ‘Dad why do you believe I should change it to 39?’ He said, ‘Because there’re 39 books in the Old Testament.’ And I said, ‘You know what? That’s a way to wear my faith on my chest and on my back.’”

With that badge of courage on his chest, in nine seasons in the NFL his goal has never changed. “I always say that whatever city I stop in, I want to leave a positive imprint on that city. And football is just a platform for me to grab, you know, at the masses, their attention. But being successful and then being positive with it, you influence so many people.”

If his influence isn’t evident by the legacy he’s building on the field, take a look at his charity the Steven Jackson Foundation where one of the focuses is children and combating illiteracy. “I always go around, do motivational talks, to not only young people, but actually to adults as well about my faith in Christ, about motivating them in through hardship and how to achieve goals and how to deal with success.”

This season as the Rams continue their battle for January, Steven is focused on the number one reason he’s on the field. “Jesus Christ actually means a lot of things to me. One, He’s my heavenly Father. He loves me wholeheartedly. He’s the true definition of unconditional love. Where a lot of times I can get frustrated with myself or with other people, I remind myself that God—He died and laid on the cross for us in my sins that one day I could come to meet Him. Love is just more powerful than anything on this earth. And, the more I try to remind myself of that, the more I try to walk in that, I find peace in myself in my heart.”

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