When Steven Jackson raced into the end zone on Sunday afternoon for the first time this season, the six points it put on the board brought more than just a win for No. 39 and his St. Louis Rams teammates.
Steven's touchdown was also a winning score for Las Vegas charity Three Square Food Bank.
Every TD Steven scores this season means money for hungry children (AP).
In a feature for this month's Las Vegas Magazine, Steven wrote about the charity, which hits close to home for S-Jax as a man who knows the challenges for many children who grow up in Las Vegas:
"This year I've teamed up with another fantastic local charity, Three Square Food Bank, in order to address one of the most important issues currently facing today's youth—childhood hunger. More than 45 percent of Clark County School District students receive free or reduced-cost meals. That means every weekend there are more than 140,000 children in Las Vegas who are at risk of being hungry. And that number is growing by the day.
As a father and a fellow Las Vegan, I think we can all agree that even one child going hungry in our community is one too many. I found a unique way that I can help, and I challenge everyone else to do the same. This season, for each touchdown I score, I will donate $2,000 to the Three Square BackPack for Kids Program. Every Sunday I will break tackles and burst through defenders on my way to the end zone so that each Friday children in need can receive a Three Square backpack filled with nutritious food. For children in unstable settings, this food serves as a weekend bridge until they get back to school on Monday. The BackPack for Kids Program literally changes lives, and I'm honored to be able to contribute."
Steven is not only contributing his money, but also his time to the Three Square Charity and he's asking his fans and his peers for help.
"In addition to scoring touchdowns and donating money, I'm also reaching out to others in the Las Vegas Valley who are in a position to help and asking them to match my donations. Together we can battle this widespread problem and make sure no child in our community goes to bed hungry"
On Monday morning after Steven led the Rams to a big victory over the Detroit Lions, Steven woke up to get back to work.
It took him a little while to realize there was not work to be done, as he posted to his Twitter.
"Good morning to all. I'm just waking but realize today is victory Monday (day off). I'm going back to bed."
ESPN.com's Mike Sando gave kudos to S-Jax after citing the tweet:
"Jackson's inspired running makes the Rams worth watching despite all their deficiencies. He's on pace to finish the season with 330 carries for 1,568 yards. His 4.8-yard average would mark a career high since Jackson became a full-time starter in his second season. That is remarkable given the Rams' weak passing game."
Speaking of Steven's Twitter feed, more than 350 of Steven's followers tweeted well wishes to No. 39 after the St. Louis win on Sunday. The SJ39.com staff picked 20 of the best tweets at random.
One of those 20 came for Rams blogger Peter Dunbar, aka VTRamsfan on popular Rams blog Turf Show Times. Dunbar noted as much in a posting yesterday.
He also harkened back to the beginning of the season when No. 39 tweeted a picture of his locker that included a loofa hanging inside. At the time, Steven was ribbed about having a pink loofa, but after his performance on Sunday, fans like VTRamsfan are rethinking their stance:
"NOW on another note, Steven snapped a picture of his Locker just before the season started and I, along with others, gave him crap for having a pink shower loofa…
NOW because Steven looked like a mad savage beast on Sunday (I can still hear the Detroit villagers screaming), I felt I now needed a shower loofa too… bottom line, if using a shower loofa can make you even half the man Steven was Sunday, I'm owning one."
The Lions found out first hand how unstoppable No. 39 can be (AP).
SJ got even more love from one of his followers on a posting to the Virtual Sports Network. Warner2BruceTD said:
"And speaking of NFL RB's, Steven Jackson is the best RB in the league. Better than Peterson, and no one else is even close. What this guy does on a week to week basis, vs. teams that completely key in on him, is nothing short of amazing. He never goes down on first contact, plays hard until the gun in all of these Rams blowouts, and is on pace for a 1500 yard year on a brutal team that has won 6 games in 3 seasons.
Think about this–Since 2006, Jackson leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage per game, paying for the Rams. He's a great pass catcher, his backups (Kenneth Darby & Samkon Gado) never touch the ball so he plays every single down, and he never fumbles.
Peterson, as great of a breakaway threat as he is, is not a great pass catcher, has an elite backup to spell him (Chester Taylor), and fumbles on an almost weekly basis.
There is no debate-Steven Jackson is the best RB in football–and nobody watches him play."
Following his big game, Steven was the recipient of a number of game balls in the media.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz presented game balls to both S-Jax and rams coach Steve Spagnuolo:
"Jackson's attitude and professionalism have been as impressive as his running. He's been a total team player in 2009. A positive influence in every way. Someone who tries hard to keep his teammates fired up. Someone who refuses to dwell on any kind of negativity. Jackson just keeps pressing on, running through the fog of losing, trying to desperately to break through to the sunlight."
Steven also was recognized by ESPN analyst Chris Berman, who awarded Steven his Week 8 game ball during Monday Night's NFL Countdown broadcast. Steven was appreciative of the acknowledgments, but his focus remains unchanged, as quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"It's meaningful," Jackson said. "But we still have a lot of work to do around here. We want to be a winning organization. We don't want to get kudos sparingly. We want that to continue to happen week in and week out. And not only focus on what we're doing as an individual; we want to focus as a team. Because we have some talented guys around here. We've just got to grow up. We're a team that's learning how to win."
DISPATCHING THEIR BEST
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been filled with kind words about No. 39 in the last few days.
In addition to Miklasz's game ball column, Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell also posted a column today about the St. Louis fans and their newfound appreciation for S-Jax:
"I think (the public) has had a chance to get to know me and I have had a chance to get to know them," Jackson said. "Some of the things I may say now might not take them aback as much as it would have in the past. I'm growing up too."
The folks who used to hate him, who used to think he was either too flamboyant or too brash or too outspoken — but mostly just too … too … something — finally are on his side.
The silly "trade him" talks have diminished to a whisper. They no longer want to measure him against Marshall Faulk. They don't want to pick him apart for not running hard enough (he always ran hard), or for holding out (he was justified), or for complaining about the bad music in the Dome (he was right) or the lukewarm support of the fans (right again). They have put all that aside.
And all it took was a monster game against the Detroit Lions to finally close the deal and open their hesistant eyes and hearts.
To read Burwell's entire column, click here.
In Tuesday's paper, Post-Dispatch columnist Jim Gordon penned a column detailing how SJ39 "sets the standard." An excerpt:
Jackson didn't go south when the team staggered to seven consecutive losses. He didn't lose his patience or composure. He didn't slack off. He didn't pop off, although it was tempting to speak out at times.
"That's me knowing that what makes me go, makes me tick, is not helpful to a young team," he said.
So he kept quiet, opting not to air grievances through media outlets. He just kept plugging away and encouraging his teammates to do the same.
"You get tired of starting over," Jackson said. "We're going to make it work."
When the opportunity arose to win Sunday, he seized it.
"Seventeen games is a long time," Jackson said. "I was ready to give everything I had to win that game."
To read Gordon's entire column, click here.
But the Post-Dispatch wasn't done with the Steven love. Rams beat writer Jim Thomas talked to No. 39's Rams teammates about what he brings to the table:
"You know on video games where they have the special moves?" center Jason Brown said. "You can hit the 'turbo' button. You can hit the 'spin' button. You can hit the 'juke' button. Well, Steven has all of those buttons. And when you think that that juice is about to run out, he will continue to surprise you."
Rams tight end Daniel Fells believes that even with all the things he can do between the whistles, Steven's biggest contribution to the team is leadership:
"He's a guy that I've always had a lot of respect for," tight end Daniel Fells said. "I know as a team, we look up to him. He is the leader of this team."
St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson makes his mark (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4, 2009)
Rams fans finally can appreciate Steven Jackson (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4, 2009)
Steven Jackson sets the standard (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 3, 2009)
Give Game Balls to Jackson, Spagnuolo (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 2, 2009)
Sweet Tweet: Rams' Jackson earns his rest (ESPN.com, November 2, 2009)
Sent S-Jax an honorable tweet + Shower Loofa (Turf Show Times, November 3, 2009)
Week 8 Random NFL Musings, and why NFL RB's are all the same (Virtual Sports Network, November 2, 2009)