SJ in Search of Success and Loyalty

In the midst of free agency, Steven Jackson has spent plenty of time thinking about exactly where he would like to land as he takes the next step in his career.

And as SJ39 looks toward his future, his top two priorities are simple: success and loyalty.

Steven has played just two playoff games in his career, but he hopes to add to that total with his next team.

Steven is the NFL's active leading rusher and sits 16th on the league's all-time rushing list, just over 300 yards away from cracking the Top 15.

But No. 39 is looking to add to that legacy as one of the best running backs in the history of the game, not just through piling on more yardage, but by integrating new dimensions to his portfolio.

Part of that process has been sticking up for his position. Without question, the running back has been devalued in professional football thanks to the "running back by committee" approach. So this offseason, SJ launched his "Save The Running Back" campaign—and his reach has stretched across several generations of backs.

"I think people are trying to drown out my seriousness and this movement because they know I'm on to something," SJ said. "A lot of people don't want to report the things I'm talking about because they don't want to piss off general managers and owners, to be quite frank. So I felt as the active leading rusher in the NFL, it was on me to carry the torch and talk about how the position is being devalued."

Though Steven is the spokesperson for the movement, his message is being echoed both by those who came before him and those runners seeking to follow in his footsteps to long and successful NFL careers.

"I've talked to Hall of Famers like Eric Dickerson. I've talked to guys as young as Melvin Gordon. We're talking about two or three generations between each other, and we all feel the same way. So I know what I'm trying to do and the attention I'm trying to bring to it is meaningful."

Ironically, one of the few teams remaining that seems to value the running back in accordance with the STRB principles is the franchise that drafted SJax back in 2004.

The St. Louis Rams spent their 2015 first round draft pick, No. 10 overall, on Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Gurley recently said that he didn't take No. 39 in St. Louis out of respect for Steven's place in both Rams and NFL history. SJ was also thrilled that his former team was the one to carry the STRB banner in the recent draft.

"It is quite funny, here I am leading the way and the Rams are looking to recommit to a franchise running back," SJ39 said. "I think when you see a guy that is very talented, no matter what position he plays, I think you ought to treat him as that special guy and not just put him in the box of 'This is the way business is handled and the way we want to structure how we pay guys.'"

Steven said recently that he hopes he can retire with the team that drafted him: the St. Louis Rams.

With that in mind, Steven has also thought in depth about ending his career in St. Louis. 

"I definitely want to retire as a Ram," S-Jax says. "It's definitely something I want and that would be to go back. … I'll never forget standing in that meeting room and watching Isaac Bruce retire. When I saw that up close and personal, I said I want that for myself whenever I retire."

But first, No. 39 has some unfinished business to take care of on the gridiron.

As he has matured and grown as a player and a person through his career, becoming one of the league's foremost veteran running backs, Steven has transitioned into a role centered around leading and teaching. That was one hat he wore while leading the RB corps for the Atlanta Falcons for much of the last two seasons. He helped to groom several young runners, including Florida State product Devonta Freeman in his rookie season just last year.

SJ has filled his role as a veteran leader well over his career.

But after making his stamp in the lives of several young runners, and helping to fight back against the deflation of his position, SJ39 feels like it's time to think about No. 1.

"I don't want to go to a team that is rebuilding and needs me to come on and teach guys how to be professional," Steven said. "I've done that. I've been more than vocal about wanting to help young guys, but at some point I have to be a little selfish. I want to be part of a winning team because when I do hang up my cleats, I can see a lot of people holding that over my head when a lot of it was out of my control."

S-Jax has played just two postseason games in his career, both of which came during his rookie campaign in 2004 with the Rams. So as he looks for a destination this offseason, he is eyeing one where he has the potential to make a playoff run.

"I have all the things I've accomplished personally, but I've still never been on a team that won more than eight games," Steven told ESPN.com. "That would be definitely one of the things that I'm looking for, is that opportunity in my next chapter."

RELATED ARTICLES

By | 2016-12-26T20:23:13+00:00 May 15th, 2015|News|Comments Off on SJ in Search of Success and Loyalty