As a running back in the National Football League, Steven Jackson takes hits for a living—but in a recent appearance on behalf of Nike, he talked about a hit that ended his career in a different sport.
Steven joined Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for a fan Q&A at Nike's Fearless Acceleration tent during the College World Series in Omaha over the weekend—and shared a story with the roughly 200 fans in attendance about a bad experience that ended his baseball career at a young age, as documented by The Omaha World-Herald:
“I actually got hit in the mouth with a baseball. A line drive,” he said. “That was the end of my career, as well. I was at the Boys and Girls Club. Second base. All I heard was ‘pop.’ And the next thing was ‘pow.’ So that was my career.”
Suh shared similar stories with the crowd of mostly youth baseball players, from his brief stint in baseball, documenting how he suffered three broken noses while playing the sport that's not known for its contact.
Though neither played the game beyond their youth, Both Steven and Suh are products of schools with great baseball traditions. SJ39's Oregon State Beavers won national titles on the diamond in 2006 and 2007 and have made the tournament in 10 out of the last 11 seasons. They were knocked out by Dallas Baptist in the regional round of this year's competition. Suh's Nebraska Cornhuskers have yet to win a national title in baseball but have made tournament appearances nine times since 2000, including three CWS berths.
While the College World Series is a major annual event for the city of Omaha and the state of Nebraska, football will always reign supreme in the Cornhusker State. Suh, who spent five years in the state attending the University of Nebraska about an hour outside of Omaha in Lincoln, was also pleased to pull S-Jax out of his hometown of Las Vegas and over to Omaha to take part in the event, meet the fans and take in some of the tournament.
"It was nice that I finally got him out of Vegas, and out here to the good old Nebraska,” Suh said.
So while baseball was center stage, with two NFL greats in town naturally the gridiron, and the Huskers, were a big topic of conversation. Steven gave his musings on Nebraska star running back Ameer Abdullah, who was selected in the second round of this year's NFL draft by the Detroit Lions.
“He’s a balanced, downhill runner,” Jackson said. “He played in a tough conference, where he knows and understands how to protect the ball, how to move the chains. And he’s played in bad weather. That’s another thing as a running back — when weather gets bad, that’s when your team needs you the most.”
After talking about Abdullah's future in the NFL, SJ also spoke on Nebraska's future without the star runner, as a man SJ knows very well: former OSU head coach Mike Riley takes over the football program at the University. Steven played for three years under Riley in Corvallis, but after 14 years at Oregon State over two stints as head coach, he left to take over at Nebraska this offseason. No. 39 assured the Husker fans that they are in good hands going forward.
“He has this saying where, if you don’t come to his school as a blue chip, you will leave as a blue-chip athlete and a blue-chip person,” Jackson said of Riley. “So I think you guys are going to be in for a treat. He’s going to get everyone involved in the community and teach these young men what they need to know to be successful on the football field, in the classroom and amongst you guys as well, being part of society.”