Tom Jackson (American football, born 1951)

Last updated

Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson 2010.jpg
Jackson at the 2010 NFL Draft
No. 57
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1951-04-04) April 4, 1951 (age 70)
Cleveland, Ohio
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school: Cleveland (OH) Adams
College: Louisville
NFL Draft: 1973  / Round: 4 / Pick: 88
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at  ·  PFR

Thomas Louie Jackson, also referred to as "TJ" or "Tommy", (born April 4, 1951) is a former NFL linebacker for the Denver Broncos, where he was part of the "Orange Crush Defense". Jackson was a major component in the defense which led the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI against the New York Giants. After his playing career ended, he enjoyed a successful 29-year run as an NFL analyst for ESPN. He was given the Pete Rozelle Award for excellence in broadcasting by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.


Playing career

Early life

Jackson attended John Adams High School, where he played football, baseball, and also was a wrestler. He was a fan of the Cleveland Browns and he and his father attended many games. [1] Jackson credited his wrestling coach with developing his mental toughness and character. "He was a 140-pound guy named John Bianchi, the toughest little Italian man I ever knew. He drove us unbelievably and probably drove me more than he drove the rest of my teammates. I look back very fondly on his help building of my character." [1] Jackson's mother died when he was a teenager.[ citation needed ]


Jackson dreamed of attending Ohio State, but the Buckeyes had little interest in the undersized Jackson. He was recruited by University of Louisville head coach, and current college football analyst, Lee Corso. He attended Louisville and played football for three seasons from 1970 to 1972. [2]

During his college career, he was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year selection in 1970 and 1972. [3] Playing linebacker, he led the Cardinals in tackles all three years and led the team to an overall record of 23-7-2. [4]

His jersey number 50 was retired by Louisville in 1999. [3]

Professional (1973-1986)

Jackson was selected by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 1973 NFL Draft. [5] He enjoyed a 14-year career in Denver where he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, a four-time All-Pro selection, and was voted Denver's Most Inspirational Player six times by his teammates.[ citation needed ] He also helped lead the team to championship appearances in Super Bowl XII and Super Bowl XXI.

Jackson was one of only four players to play for the Broncos in both of the aforementioned Super Bowls, played nine years apart. He retired with 20 career interceptions returned for 340 total yards and three touchdowns, and eight fumble recoveries returned for 104 yards. He also recorded 13 sacks (with a season high 5-1/2) as a weak-side blitzer in Denver's 3-4 defense according to Broncos records.[ citation needed ] Jackson ranks third only to Jason Elam and John Elway on the team's all-time list of games played with 191. [1] He retired tied for the franchise lead for interceptions by a linebacker with 20. [4]

Jackson became the 14th person inducted in the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1992. [6]

Jackson published Blitz: An Autobiography in 1987 which focused on his career with the Broncos. The book was written with long-time Denver Post sports columnist Woody Paige. [7]

Broadcasting career (1987-2016; 2019-present)

Jackson joined ESPN studios in 1987 where he was teamed with Chris Berman on the network's signature NFL shows, NFL Countdown and NFL Primetime . Sunday NFL Countdown, the weekly Sunday morning pre-game show and has won seven Sports Emmy awards for Outstanding Studio Show—Weekly (1988, 1991, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2007 seasons). [2] On Monday Night Countdown, Jackson hosted the segment "Jacked Up!," which featured five hits from the previous day's games. The show's hosts recited the title phrase as they watched some of the most punishing hits inflicted by players on the field.

Jackson's pre-ESPN broadcasting experience included co-host positions for both "Broncos Beat," a weekly show on KCNC-TV in Denver, Colorado and a post-game show on KUSA-TV. He had also hosted a daily syndicated sports commentary radio show, "Behind the Line." [2]

In 1995 Jackson appeared in the "Eggheads" episode of the American science fiction television series Sliders , playing a color commentator during the Mindgame scenes. [8]

During his career as a broadcaster, he was known for his outspoken commentary on social issues in addition to his football knowledge. [9]

Tom Jackson retired from ESPN after the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on August 6, 2016. [10]

On January 20, 2019, Tom Jackson reunited with Chris Berman on a special playoff edition of NFL Primetime after the AFC and NFC Championship Games. [11]

On September 13, 2019, ESPN announced that Berman and Jackson would return for a new digital-only edition of NFL Primetime, streaming weekly throughout the NFL season on ESPN+ beginning on September 15, 2019. The program will stream live at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sundays and be updated with highlights for the Sunday and Monday night games upon their completion. [12]

Jackson opted out of his Primetime hosting duties for the 2020 season over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. [13]


In July 2015 Jackson was named the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. [14]


Jackson resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife, Jennifer, a former flight attendant whom he met in Hawaii at the 1990 Pro Bowl. They have two daughters, Taylor and Morgan. He also had a daughter, Andrea Jackson, who died on August 7, 1997, at the age of nine in a car accident. [15]

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  1. 1 2 3 "Tom Jackson: Former Denver Broncos All-Pro". Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 "Tom Jackson (bio)". ESPN. Archived from the original on November 9, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  3. 1 2 "U of L Honors Jersey Of Former Standout LB Tom Jackson". October 30, 1999. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  4. 1 2 "Tom Jackson". Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  5. "1973 NFL Draft". Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  6. Swanson, Ben (August 26, 2020). "Broncos Legends: A look back through Tom Jackson's Broncos career". Denver Broncos . Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  7. Blitz:An Autobiography. ISBN   0809246627.
  8. "Sliders Episode 7: Eggheads". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  9. "ESPN's Tom Jackson to Retire After 29 Years". August 3, 2016.
  10. "NFL analyst Tom Jackson retiring after 29 years with ESPN". August 3, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  11. "ESPN reunites Chris Berman and Tom Jackson on 'NFL Primetime'". Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  12. "NFL PrimeTime with Chris Berman and Tom Jackson Returns for the 2019-20 NFL Season on ESPN+". September 13, 2019.
  13. Casselberry, Ian. "Booger McFarland will co-host NFL PrimeTime with Chris Berman for 2020 season". Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  14. "Tom Jackson Named Winner of Prestigious Pete Rozelle Radio-TV Award". Pro Football Hall of Fame. July 7, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  15. "Former Bronco's daughter killed in accident". AP. August 7, 1997. Retrieved December 7, 2020.