His team struggled, his starting quarterback was injured midseason, and every opponent knew that Steven Jackson was going to get the football. None of that mattered.
Instead, the St. Louis Rams' No. 39 racked up arguably the most-hard fought 1,675 total yards from scrimmage (1,353 rushing yards, second in NFL) in recent memory, and the payoff was sweet. On Tuesday, Steven was named to the Pro Bowl, joining Adrian Peterson and DeAngelo Williams as the running backs of the NFC.
Afterward, in the humble fashion to which his fans have become accustomed, Steven gave thanks on his Twitter account, @sj39:
Thx u, it's been a rough year at times for the kid. But it's very humbling to know my peers, coaches & fans, made me a pro bowler. Thx u
Steven Jackson, 2009-10 Pro Bowler.
HIGH PRAISE FROM ROBINSON
Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson singled out Steven's accomplishment in a lengthy feature piece, speaking about S-Jax's poise throughout the season, and his remarkable achievements on the playing field.
After an offseason of regime change and an offensive line that was expected to be boosted by an infusion of young talent, St. Louis has repeatedly fallen flat. Indeed, the franchise has done more holding together than pulling together. But while the media and fans waited for the emotionally charged Jackson to go off a cliff, he has instead showcased remarkable poise. Not only has he carried the offense despite being brutally battered each week, he has held the line in the locker room. The coaching staff and front office told him when the season began that they were going to need him to be a leader through all the turmoil, and he rose up and delivered, both in his play and his solitude.
That mindset, along with 1,675 yards from scrimmage, might make Jackson the most worthy Pro Bowler of this season. In spite of St. Louis’ one win, a porous offensive line and a lackluster passing game, Jackson has been one of the league’s most remarkable talents in 2009.
How remarkable? A defensive assistant who faced the Rams this year said Jackson took “maybe 70” accrued hits over the course of their game, and seemed to get stronger as the game wore on.
“Big [running backs] get tired late, because they will absorb a lot of punishment and it really takes it out of them. But his stamina was still way, way up there,” the assistant said. “Adrian Peterson gets tired in games like that. You can see it where you get into that 50-hit territory. Muscular, heavy guys will slow down. They play a little softer. … We whacked Jackson all day, and [in film review] he just kept putting his forearm into guys’ throats. He was still nasty.”
With that punishment in mind, it’s all the more impressive Jackson survived the first 14 games of the season, before his back forced him out of the lineup against Arizona. It’s a testament to one of the most intense offseason workout regimens of his career, which included Olympic-style weight training. He entered training camp in the best playing shape of his career.
Steven also spoke about his own maturation, both as a player and a leader.
“I have been advised that you have to be even keel. You can’t be emotional. People don’t know how to read you [when you make emotional statements]. An emotional outlet for me, it might relieve some stress for me, and allow me to get some things off my chest, but it impacts other people around me differently. …
“I’ve learned to be even-keeled. I constantly talk to my father and my mother for guidance and leadership and how they would handle things. The things that have been taught to me in life, I’m actually applying them. When I do want to vent, I vent to them. I don’t vent in the public and I don’t vent in the media. It’s just an open session of me saying the things I’d like to say, but behind closed doors.”
Battering Ram (Yahoo Sports, Dec. 29, 2009)