Rickey Jackson answers NFL questions

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 23, 2014

By Stephen Hemelt

LAPLACE — NFL great and former New Orleans Saints star Rickey Jackson recently spoke in LaPlace about the importance of mentors for youth, especially those coming from single-parent households.

Jackson spoke at a fundraiser luncheon for New Wine Christian Fellowship’s Kids on the Move summer camp, but when he wasn’t speaking about the children, he took plenty of questions from fans asking about his playing days.

The following are some of the thoughts the Hall of Famer shared:

• He described former Saints teammate Craig William “Ironhead” Heyward, who played at the same college as Jackson – the University of Pittsburgh, as having Hall of Fame talent.

“We were practicing one day and he came around the end at full speed, and I hit him as hard as I could,” Jackson said. “He bounced right up and started talking about he’s coming right back again for another run. I was hurt for a few plays and didn’t want him to know I wasn’t ready for him to come right back.”

• Jackson said the NFL Network was correct to name his Saints linebacking group of Pat Swilling, Vaughan Johnson, Sam Mills and himself — known as the Dome Patrol — as the best in league history.

“All of us were pro-bowlers,” Jackson said. “You’re not going to find a linebacking group, defensive back group or any unit that had all pro-bowlers. We were the best.”

• Jackson said he retired in 1995 from the NFL and then team, the San Francisco 49ers, not because he had won the Super Bowl but because he was getting old and didn’t relate as well to the young players.

He joked about the age difference among his teammates.

“I was 36 years old and most of the guys in the locker room were in their 20s, and they didn’t talk to me,” Jackson said. “They would have their headphones and listen to music. I wasn’t friends with any of them.”

• He described the 49ers as a “first class” organization but said the Saints will always be his team.