Tarvaris Jackson, Far From Perfect, Kept Bouncing Back On and Off Field

Tarvaris Jackson

-Tommy Foltz

Tarvaris Jackson, the former Hogs quarterback who died in a single-car wreck on Sunday night, left this world at the age of 36 years old. 

His life was full of ups and downs, but through it all he showed resilience in the face of big setbacks on and off the gridiron.  


YouTube video


Tarvaris Jackson came to the Hogs in 2001 after a heralded prep career as a quarterback from Montgomery, Alabama. He had a gun of an arm, but it was hardly on display during his two seasons on the Hill. Jackson threw for a total of 196 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, numbers that Clint Stoerner could put up in 3 quarters — without the interceptions.

In a 2006 interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jackson said he transferred to Alabama State when it became clear that Matt Jones would be the team’s starting quarterback in 2003. Since Alabama State was a member of what was then known as Division I-AA, he didn’t have to redshirt after transferring. 

“You never know what would have happened,” Jackson told the Democrat-Gazette, “but I didn’t want to stay there and wait and see what might happen.

“I never had any bad feelings about Arkansas. I just wanted to be somewhere I could play a lot.”

It was a good decision for both parties. Matt Jones became a superstar at Arkansas while Jackson added 63 TD passes and 11 rushing TDs to his resume in Alabama.  Jackson did so well that he was picked by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft.  That’s where he played his first 5 years until he was traded to Seattle and spent 4 of the next 5 years with Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

Jackson’s career year came in 2011, when he threw for 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns. He started in 14 games for Seattle in 2011 but the next year, Seattle drafted Russell Wilson. He backed up Wilson during their Super Bowl run.




In 2014, while still in the NFL, Jackson finished his degree in psychology at Troy University.  That’s to be applauded.

What’s not to be applauded is the fact that on June 24, 2016, he was charged with aggravated assault because he pulled a gun on…….his wife. He reportedly told her he “should shoot her,” to which she replied: “You better be accurate because you ain’t accurate on the field.”

In the court proceedings, he was denied the right to use a public defender by the judge in the case.

Jackson reportedly had requested the public defender because, as the father of three put it, “I’m broke. I have no income, no savings, no stock, just a $100,000 car.” 

Meanwhile, according to the Seattle Times, he made $12 million over the course of his 10-year NFL career.

I don’t know the ins and outs of Jackson’s financial situation at the time, but it seems like with millions of dollars he should have afforded his own attorney. He obviously knew his age and that his playing days were numbered.  Why did he not put away some of the money?


Then again, almost all of us have parts of our past we aren’t proud of. 

Tarvaris Jackson didn’t just succumb to the anger and frustration so many ex pro athletes feel — he worked to right things.  

Jackson disputed a lot of what was in the official police report and eventually the charges were dropped.  

After all that, Jackson became a graduate assistant at Alabama State in 2018 and was named Quarterbacks Coach for Tennessee State in 2019.

“My heart is so heavy with hurt hearing of the passing of Coach Jackson,” said TSU’s athletic director, Teresa Phillips, according to TMZ Sports. “We were blessed with him for a short time but he did make an impact with our young men in this one season at TSU.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his young family and all who knew and loved him.”

Added TSU head coach Rod Reed: “We are devastated. He was an awesome young man and he will be missed by our players, our staff and the TSU family.”

I’m not going to speculate on the reason Jackson wrecked his car into a tree during his last night on earth. Whatever the reason, he accomplished things in his life few other people do — NFL quarterbacking, a Super Bowl championship, a degree, and coaching college football. 

He put his legal challenges behind him got involved in something he obviously loved.  Whether he was a Hog for 2 years or 4 years didn’t matter to me.  You have to admire someone who has struggled and, even though some of it was self-inflicted, bounced back.  

Rest in peace, Tarvaris Jackson. 


YouTube video


For the latest from Tommy Foltz and Best Of Arkansas Sports:

Facebook Comments