RB Steven Jackson is one of the most engaging football players I have ever interviewed, and his personal eye contact struck me almost immediately. The Atlanta Falcons‘ running back has big plans in the coming season. He mentioned during our conversation on Tuesday at the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards that his first goal was getting to the Super Bowl, and as for his second goal? Going back to the Pro Bowl.
Here is something you might not know about the multi-talented Jackson, though. He had a photography exhibit over the weekend in Los Angeles called “Looking Forward: Running Back,” and he spoke with me last week a little bit about what inspired him to share his passion with the world.
“It was something that actually kind of just happened,” Jackson said. “I went to school for architecture, and I’ve always been artistic. In my travels over the years, I’ve documented everything through photography. And a couple friends of mine, particularly this one guy, named Michael Kalish, saw them. ‘You’re really good at this,’ he told me. ‘Have you ever thought about sharing it with the world?’ And me, being shy, and me wanting to be taken serious. I said, ‘No. I don’t think anybody will take my art seriously, because they only see me in one light.’ But as I began to think about that statement, I thought that’s even more of a reason why I need to share this and show my peers and others that we all have different talents in the world, and it is OK to share them and actually to be uncomfortable in a setting.”
That, my friends, is the heart of an artist, and I hope that his exhibit makes its way to Chicago one day. Do not count him out at the Art Institute.
As for his exploits on the football field, Jackson mentioned in a different interview Tuesday night that he wanted to reverse the stigma that surrounds 30-year-old running backs, and I would not be shocked if the Falcons end up being an incredible story during the 2014-15 season. Even if the former Pro Bowler does not get back to Hawaii next winter, he can still lean on his budding photography career.