One of the many great sights on game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome and away venues, including Wembley Stadium in London, wearing the jersey of their favorite player, which got us to wondering if the players have a specific reason why they're wearing the number that is on the front and back of their jerseys. Falcons running back Steven Jackson wears No. 39 for a few reasons, each based upon leaving a legacy, both on and off the football field.
The Falcons' Week 8 matchup against the Detroit Lions proved to be record-setting for Jackson, who finished the contest with 18 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown, becoming the 19th player in NFL history to reach 11,000 rushing yards, following a 5-yard run in the second quarter. He has 11,026 rushing yards in his career and is one of eight players in NFL history to post 11,000-plus rushing yards and 450 receptions, each earned while wearing jersey No. 39.
Jackson entered the league as a first round draft pick (24th overall) of the St. Louis Rams following a solid college campaign at Oregon State University, where he scored 39 rushing touchdowns while wearing No. 34 in honor of his childhood hero and former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. When Jackson arrived in St. Louis, No. 34 was already taken, allowing him to follow through with his plan to begin a new and lasting legacy, symbolized with No. 39.
After being signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent in 2013, RB Steven Jackson has led the running game and been a dominant member of the Falcons offense.
"No current, active running back was wearing the number 39, and the only great player that did wear it prior was (former Miami Dolphins running back) Larry Csonka," Jackson said. "I called my dad, didn't tell him the number I chose, but told him the idea I had about leaving my own legacy and within two minutes of the conversation, he said number 39, because there are 39 books in the (Bible's) Old Testament; for two different reasons, young and old, the bloodline of our family, we agreed on 39."
Jackson made the most of his time in St. Louis, including a span from 2005-2012 that included eight-straight 1,000-yard seasons, before signing with the Falcons on March 15, 2013.
The league's active rushing leader continues to work just as tirelessly as he did in each and every one of his previous 10 seasons in the league, adding to the legacy that he began in 2004. Following his record-setting day in Week 8, Jackson kept the game ball for the man who inspired his career.
"I'm giving the ball to my father, Steve," Jackson said. "From the moment I was introduced to football at age 7, my dad has always been there and he continually has been a sounding board, a coach, a confidant; all those positive things that I need and will want, my dad is that for me."