Chiefs’ Tyson Jackson remembers his home

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 4, 2012

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EDGARD — Nobody will ever accuse former West St. John football great Tyson Jackson of forgetting where he came from.

Jackson, who just completed his third season with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, has been back in his native Edgard, giving back the community in a variety of ways.

Jackson donated school supplies and P.E. class equipment to the children of West St. John elementary and purchased new uniforms for little league baseball and football teams in the area. He also helped establish a class for social etiquette for young people in the area.

“It’s just an awesome feeling for me to be in a place where I can give back and help these kids,” said Jackson. To help them with some of the simple stuff in life that you need …

“I’ve always been taught and felt that it’s important to stay grounded and humble. It feels good, not only to come back and help, but just to keep in contact with so many people at home.”

The etiquette class was something new. During his first three seasons in the NFL, Jackson said that he gained increased understanding of importance of teaching young men and women the value of being able to present themselves well in public settings, especially after reaching out and working with youths around the country.

Jackson asked a teacher from California to direct up the class, which completed a five-day run last week.

“It’s such a big part of society and having success,” said Jackson. “It’s just to show the younger people in our community the proper things to do, whether it’s at the dinner table, how to introduce yourself when addressing a crowd, those types of things.”

Young people in Edgard would do well to look to Jackson for an example of what hard work can yield. He, along with fellow NFL player Quinn Johnson, brought a state championship back to Edgard in 2003 as part of coach Laury Dupont’s 14-1 West St. John squad. That team topped things off with a dominating 41-21 victory over Sterlington in the Class 2A championship game.

That dynamic duo repeated the feat at LSU. With Jackson at defensive end and Johnson at fullback, they helped pilot a 12-2 season in 2007 that was capped by a 38-24 victory over Ohio State for the BCS National Championship.

In the pros, Jackson was part of Kansas City’s surprising AFC West division championship run in 2010. That Chiefs team improved from 4-12 to 10-6.

But myriad injuries bit Jackson’s squad last season, sidelining a number of key players including quarterback Matt Cassel, running back Jamaal Charles and free safety Eric Berry.

Despite that, and beginning the season 0-3, the Chiefs hung on to contend for a second straight West crown, only bowing out of the division race and playoff picture after a Week 16 loss to Oakland.

Quitting, Jackson said, was never an option.

“We came out and played for one another. Every guy played for the guy next to him,” said Jackson. “We had a lot of missing parts to our team. But this is a real close-knit, young team.”

Despite being eliminated from the postseason race a week earlier, Kansas City defeated Denver — a team playing to secure a playoff spot — on the road to close the season.

Jackson and his defensive teammates keyed that win, holding the Broncos without a touchdown in a 7-3 win.

“It’s a win we can look to, to motivate us to get off to a strong start this year,” said Jackson.

Statistically, Jackson put together his best season in 2011, racking up 55 tackles over 16 games. The Chiefs defense improved as the year went on, allowing 16 points or less in five of their final six games.

That defense will remain a focal point under new coach Romeo Crennel, who took over as interim coach in the final three games for the fired Todd Haley. He was hired for good in the offseason, after guiding Kansas City to a 2-1 record in those three games.  

He also comes with Jackson’s full endorsement.

“The whole team rallied around RAC (Crennel),” said Jackson. “I think things are looking way up for next season.”