Before heading into a promising offseason for he and his St. Louis Rams, Steven Jackson gets a chance tonight to show why he's considered one of the best running backs in the NFL.
Steven takes the field tonight for the NFC squad in the 41st AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
S-Jax explained after the season what it means for him to be selected to the Pro Bowl again:
"I'm excited to get an opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl again this season. It's very a fulfilling way to cap off a great season for me personally.
I'm a fan of football as well as a participant in the sport so after being elected by my peers, coaches and fans, I want to give them the chance to see me play with some of the best in the game.
It will be my first time playing in the game since after the 2006 season. I was also picked last year but I had to skip it to have surgery on my back so I would be ready in time for the season.
I have a lot of great memories from my 2006 trip. Since it was my first trip, I remember just being in awe at some of the guys that I was looking at in the huddle. It was a lot of fun getting to enjoy some time with other players and their family members."
Through his Twitter feed, SJ39 has kept fans abreast of his second career Pro Bowl trip, tweeting pictures, plans and comments about the atmosphere and culture.
After arriving in Hawaii on Tuesday, No. 39 practiced with the NFC squad starting on Wednesday and shared his thoughts on the team and the plays with NFL Network's Marshall Faulk:
"They have a balanced attack," Steven said of the Falcons offense, which the NFC is running for the Pro Bowl. "They do a good job making sure the running back is the focal point and they use the play action to get the ball down the field to Roddy [White]."
Joining Steven in the backfield for the NFC are Falcons running back Michael Turner and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The three will split the running duties as the NFC seeks their third win in four years.
"I'm trying to see if I can get the Michael Turner looks for Sunday," he said. "Show them what we can do in St. Louis."
In his first trip to the Pro Bowl, S-Jax led the NFC team in rushing with seven carries for 26 yards and scored a late touchdown, which helped bring the NFC back from a 28-14 fourth quarter deficit to eventually tie it at 28. But the AFC won the game on a last second field goal.
S-Jax will be looking to get the NFC back in the win column tonight at 6 p.m. CST on FOX.
A NEW STYLE
Before Steven left for his week in Hawaii, he and his Rams teammates received word that there would be a new coach calling their offensive plays next season.
That man will be former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who takes the reigns from Pat Shurmur. Shurmur left the Rams to take the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns.
"I'm pretty excited," Steven told ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt Show after the hiring. "We talked for two or three minutes [when he was hired]. We talked about the excitement of working together, him moving to St. Louis and about some of the people we mutually know or worked with.
"I got a good feel for him. I think it's going to be unbelievable. He's going to be good for Sam [Bradford] and he's already come out and said he wants to continue to build our offense around Sam and I."
McDaniels, who won three Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots, said that he's also excited to work with Steven:
"I really think Steven is unique player," McDaniels said. "I know from coaching against him he is very unique and multi-talented. He can beat you in the running game, he can beat you in the passing game. He can create long plays."
McDaniels plans to use a balanced attack, forcing opponents to prepare for the run and the pass on each and every play, as he told the Belleville News-Democrat:
"I really believe that your offense from one year to the next, one team to the next, you really form it around the people that you have," he said. "So if you have one player that should have the ball in his hands 30 times a game, then that's what you should do. If it's better to (run the ball) by committee because of the people that are there on your team, then I think you make those decisions as you go. Steven's certainly a special player and I can't wait to get started to work with him."
S-Jax is looking forward to his new opportunities:
"He's done some amazing things and coached some great backs," Steven said. "I just hope that I can be that guy that's really diverse for him and he can use me as a joker all over the field."
ALL NFC WEST
ESPN.com's Mike Sando made his yearly selections this week for his All-NFC West team and for the third time in three seasons, Steven led the way at running back.
Sando, who chose SJ39 and Frank Gore as his running backs, said the decision was a no-brainer:
Teams did not use fullbacks frequently enough for me to consider one. I went with the two best running backs, an easy choice even though Frank Gore missed the final five games. Gore had 853 yards and a 4.2-yard average. He averaged a career-high 9.8 yards per reception on 46 catches.
To view the whole 2010 offense, which is packed with Rams, click here.
While credit for Steven's work on the field has been coming non-stop, a recent St. Louis newspaper profile lauded Steven for his work off the gridiron:
In a feature for Laude News, Paul Brown emphasizes S-Jax and his work in the St. Louis community as reason enough why he is one of the city's most important figures:
At 27 years old, Jackson potentially has several more seasons to etch his name deeper into St. Louis' football lore. But he's also building a reputation as a champion for children's developmental programs and other worthy causes. The Steven Jackson Foundation, which has given tens of thousands of dollars to Easter Seals organizations, is his way of reaching out to kids who don't have the same opportunities that his football talents gave him. "The foundation allows me to give back to the communities I live and grew up in," he says. "It helps me get in front of children, and talk to them, and encourage them to stay on the right track and be positive."
And while he grew up in Las Vegas near the heart of ‘sin city,' his mother and father, a Marine Corps Vietnam vet, never let him wander into trouble. But Jackson understands all too well the pitfalls that can entrap children who don't get the encouragement and guidance they need. This winter, his 39 Wishes program brought more than 3,000 underprivileged youngsters onto the turf of the Edward Jones Dome to meet and talk with their heroes, play a little ball and take home a Christmas present. "To see eyes swell up in tears of joy, it was heart-wrenching, but it felt good that I'm able to give back to the community, not only in football, but with the gifts of just love and warmth."
To read the entire profile in Laude News, click here.