Arlington paved over Fred Jackson’s neighborhood and put up a parking lot.
Photo: Mark Mulville /Buffalo News
Running back Fred Jackson will feel right at home Sunday when he and the Buffalo Bills go to Dallas to face the Cowboys.
That’s because he literally will be playing in his old backyard.
The house in which Jackson grew up was located on what now is one of the parking lots for the massive new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“It will literally be home-field advantage for me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he and his family lived in the house from the time he was in fourth or fifth grade through his senior year of high school. Jackson then went off to Coe College in Iowa, and his parents moved to a different home in the Dallas area shortly thereafter. The City of Arlington eventually had to arrange for the purchase of about 168 properties to make room for the 140 acres needed for the stadium and surrounding parking lots.
“They were clearing out all that stuff five to six years in advance of the building of the stadium,” Jackson said.
This will be Jackson’s first professional game in Dallas.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said. “I grew up a Cowboys fan. I think it’s every boy’s dream if they live in a place where there’s a professional team, you either want to play for that team or play against them.”
Jackson, of course, is making a hero’s return. He currently is the No. 3 rusher in the NFL, with 803 yards, behind only Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy (825) and Chicago’s Matt Forte (805). Jackson is second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,194 yards, behind only Forte (1,241).
At his current pace, Jackson would break O.J. Simpson’s single-season team record for yards from scrimmage of 2,243, set in 1975.
No one saw such success coming when Jackson was playing for Lamar High School, about 5 miles from the current Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington. He was a late bloomer.
“I went back [to Lamar] a couple years ago, and people didn’t even recognize me,” Jackson said. “I was a minute person in high school. I was 5-8, all of 140 pounds. So to come back 6-1, 220, is completely different.”
Jackson barely played for Lamar, which is a prep football power and had about 4,000 students when he attended. He was the third-string running back entering his senior year. He moved up to second string after the season opener but still managed only about five carries for 40 yards for the season. The first stringer, Tommicus Walker, went on to play for Nebraska. Jackson and his Lamar team did make it to the Cowboys’ old home, Texas Stadium, for the state playoffs his senior year.
Jackson was a big Cowboys fan growing up, and Dallas Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith was his favorite player. But he never attended a Cowboys game as a kid. This will be Jackson’s first trip to the new Cowboys Stadium, built at a cost of $1.1 billion and opened in 2009. Jackson gave his parents his two tickets to the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, played last January.
Jackson said he has 25 tickets for Sunday’s game, and he knows too many people in the area to try to accommodate more friends at the game.
“Just family — mom, dad, brothers and sisters,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’ll be fun to see a lot of different people. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of them in pregame in the stands hooting and hollering.”
Courtesy: Mark Gaughan | The Buffalo News