Steven Jackson has taken on many endeavors over the last few seasons, but his next one might be the most unique of all.
SJ39 has a strong appreciation for art and he's hoping to do some good with it this season.
Steven's "Locker Art" will raise money for fine arts programs in public schools (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
With the help of some of his friends in sport, No. 39 is starting a program called Locker Art. For the program, Steven has passed off sketchpads to some of the biggest names in sports and asked them to come up with an original work of art that fits their personality. As ESPN's Anna McDonald writes, the idea is to auction off the pieces for a charitable effort:
"As Jackson collects art, he will auction off the signed artwork to fans through an auction on his website, SJ39.com. Half the money raised will go to the celebrity's charity of choice and the other half will go to the Steven Jackson Foundation, which will use the funds to help raise awareness and money for literacy and fine arts in public schools.
"Sometimes our artistic kids feel that they are overlooked and their talent is not appreciated. I just wanted to shine a light on that area," Jackson said. So far he's finding it's easy to give sketch books out to athletes but not so easy to get them back. Lots of people tell him they would love to help him but that they're not artists.
"I'm trying to get them to be confident to know whatever they put on the [sketch] pad I'm going to accept it," he said. "It's neat; we're not looking for any Michelangelos. We're just looking to help bring awareness and help continue to push something forward that is very unique and very different."
Steven has already received a piece from Saints quarterback Drew Brees and hopes to receive works from other fellow athletes in the near future.
"It was cool," Jackson said of Brees' sketch, reminiscent of the islands in Hawaii. "He's Drew Brees, he's cool. It's kind of appropriate, the scenery that he drew."
No. 39 has given pads to other fellow athletes such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Serena Williams and hopes to see their works soon. McDonald writes that Steven wants the athletes to put their creative side to work on the pieces, because S-Jax thinks an important part of understanding art is to feel a connection to the artist:
"He is 28 years old now, but his love and appreciation of art started at a young age.
"As a kid I would keep a sketch pad," Jackson recalls about his wide range of activities while growing up in Las Vegas. "I remember going to some drawing lessons on Saturday mornings."
Steven also considers his work on the football field a form of art and he uses his experience with the craft to paint a picture of success on the gridiron.
"I try to take a picture before I get the ball," Jackson said. "What do I see?"
Artists will tell you the key is being able to move from the picture in your head to perfect execution. Once Jackson has the football in his hands, he becomes the paintbrush for his masterpiece, weaving in and out of defenders.
"The first thing I do is look for daylight," Jackson said about what he sees on the field. "You always hear any runner say they look for daylight and as I try to find that daylight, I take the appropriate actions to help me get to that situation. So if I have to run through someone — around them, make a spin move — I just try to stroke that paint brush to the point of light."
To read McDonald's entire piece on Steven, click here.