Each year, Steven Jackson sets a number of goals, both short term and long term.
As he joins the Atlanta Falcons, a team that finished just one game shy of the Super Bowl last season, Steven’s most obvious goal is clear: SJ wants to lift the Lombardi Trophy with his new teammates in February.
But with his 30th birthday approaching, Steven also has a long-term goal on his mind.
Steven Jackson is going to change the perception of 30-year old running backs.
“I like proving statistics wrong,” he said. “Very few backs have gone through the abuse my body has taken. If I can continue to play at a high level for three or four more years, then that will speak for itself. It will show it can be done.”
Through his 20s, SJ39 was one of the league’s most durable backs, while reaching rarified air by piling up eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Over the last four seasons, Steven missed just two of his team’s 64 games. Over his nine-year career, S-Jax has played in 14 or less games just three times and has never competed in less than 12 games during a season.
As he passes the age of 30, SJ will have to deal with more of those everyday aches and pains, and recovery won’t be as swift as past years. But he’s ready and in addition to his rigorous workout schedule to keep himself in prime shape, No. 39 has taken on a new diet will help continue those trends, as CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco wrote during OTAs:
“Jackson is doing something about it. He recently decided to try a gluten-free diet. He is bigger than he’s been at 245 pounds, with his huge arms making him look more like a defensive end than a running back. He does plan to get down to 237 for camp, but for now he is doing everything he can to ready for 30.”
Steven believes that eating healthier and shedding weight in the process will allow him to recover more quickly.
“I talked to a lot of the veteran guys and they said the thing that impacted them most late in their careers wasn’t the ability to keep playing, but the ability to get over the hits and play the next week,” he said. “That’s why I am changing some things…The gluten-free helps with inflammation. It’s something I researched.”
Not only is Steven’s new diet a testament to his dedication, it’s also indicator of his willingness to learn, which can be rare for an athlete in his 30s.
“You have to continue to evolve or you will be left behind. The machine of the NFL doesn’t like people to buck against it. So you have to find your niche and exploit it. I went from the being the heir to Marshall Faulk, learning how to run routes, and then had to transform to being a bruiser to now being able to combine the two.”