It wouldn't be fair to say that Stephen Jackson could have gone anywhere and he chose Atlanta, but he could've gone somewhere and he chose Atlanta.
Atlanta's new running back, nine-year veteran Stephen Jackson, had some free-agency offers on the table, but when he got the call from Atlanta late Thursday afternoon, it didn't take him long to say yes. He was packed in an hour and was on his way.
He chose Atlanta because he'd been watching them. He admitted to admiring them from afar and during the NFC Championship last season, Jackson was in Atlanta, watching the game at his aunt's house.
So much of what Atlanta offered compared to other potential landing spots just seemed too right for Jackson. An offer from Atlanta was what he wanted and Atlanta is where he wanted to be.
"It just really made a lot of sense, like a marriage meant to happen," Jackson said of his fit with the Falcons franchise, the players and the philosophy.
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Jackson said he's been impressed immediately by how well owner and chairman Arthur Blank has treated him and he's been on phone calls and texting with teammates and coaches all day. He sees the potential in Atlanta after the 13-3 run last year and wants to be part of the puzzle to get them back there next season. After a career in St. Louis that saw him record numerous milestones, he's ready to take on new challenges and be part of a winning run.
"To be at this point in my career where winning is most important, I believe this will be a great chance for me to finish out my career with an opportunity doing some special things and put an exclamation point to what I've accomplished so far in St. Louis," he said.
Jackson is very familiar with Atlanta's roster and sees the offensive side of the ball loaded with talent. The recent return of tight end Tony Gonzalez made Jackson's decision on the Falcons easier and he's looking forward to playing with one of the game's greats.
"I think him getting his first win in the postseason kind of probably drove him back because he knows how close (the Falcons) are to going to the ultimate goal and winning the Lombardi Trophy," Jackson said. "To be able to be in the huddle with him and in the locker room with these guys …I'm very confident about the roster that we have and I'm looking forward to the bonding experience we'll have."
Jackson spent the majority of his career in St. Louis on losing teams, having only played in the playoffs as a backup his rookie season. He said the experience of losing has made him stronger and more resilient, teaching him to play and give his all until the clock no longer ticked. In the Falcons he sees a team that tasted playoff success last season and will return hungry for more. He's come to Atlanta to be a part of that.