Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By JOHN MANASSO  |  Last updated 9/11/13
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. Steven Jackson revealed an introspective and even sensitive side on Wednesday, as he talked about Sunday's looming matchup with the Rams, his first and only NFL team from 2004-12. That might, at first, seem surprising for a figure of Jackson's chiseled physical stature (6-foot-2, 240). But the three-time Pro Bowler also possesses an artistic side, which makes it more fitting. In high school, Jackson had dreams of becoming a cartoonist for Disney until he realized how time-consuming it was in a world before Computer-Generated Imagery to create so many still drawings. Instead, he turned his creativity to architecture, a topic he discussed at length with quarterback Matt Ryan during training camp, when the two were roommates. Needless to say, demolition and not artistic creation will be more on his mind Sunday against the Rams. "Any time you have a breakup, neither party actually gets what they want," Jackson said. "So, to be able to walk out with my head high, being proud of what I accomplished there and to have the ownership give me a respectable farewell, I would say both parties though it ended shorter than probably both anticipated we handled it with class and did it the right way." That statement seems slightly at odds with the version presented by the Rams' second-year head coach Jeff Fisher. "Well, we felt obviously when we got together with Jack that this was probably in the best interest for both," Fisher said. "It had a good ending. Very happy with Jack that he's able to contribute and be a big part of an outstanding offense in Atlanta. "We've got younger backs that we're trying to lean on. Daryl (Richardson) did a nice job in relief of Jack at times last year. We're just getting started and trying to see how it's going to work out." When it was observed to Jackson (the Rams' all-time rushing leader 10,135 yards) that he showed some disappointment in how things ended with St. Louis, he provided this answer. "It'ss only disappointing because I've always been taught when you start something, you finish it," he said. "Thats the only thing that's disappointing. That's been instilled in me from my father and that's who I am as a person." When Jackson began his career with the Rams in 2004, the organization was coming off multiple Super Bowl appearances and was dubbed The Greatest Show on Turf, thanks to Mike Martz's dazzling offense. However, in his final six seasons with St. Louis, the team combined for only 22 wins. With the short shelf-life of running backs in the league these days, Fisher and his new regime including general manager Les Snead, who once worked in the Falcons front office for 13 seasons elected to move on from Jackson. "I think it was just a little bit of seeing the handwriting on the wall," Jackson said. "The National Football League is not nice to veteran running backs. The Atlanta Falcons presented a great opportunity for me." With that in the rear-view mirror, Jackson is concerned with getting the Falcons into the win column. In last week's loss to New Orleans, Jackson carried the ball 11 times for 77 yards and caught five passes for 45 yards (no touchdowns). The most glaring example came on 3rd-and-goal, from the Saints' 3-yad line, in the final minute of regulation: Matt Ryan hit Jackson, straddling the goal line at the time, with a pass that bounced off the running back's hands. After the game, Jackson admitted he should have made the catch. Looking ahead, Jackson's former teammates will have to excuse him if he bypasses sentimentality at kickoff time. "No holds barred," Jackson said. "No ones holding anything back. I've ensured them of that. What they've watched on Sundays for the last nine years it won't be no brother-in-law situation going on Sunday." On Wednesday, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was very complementary of Jackson, a former mentor with St. Louis. "Obviously, Jack was a huge part of me growing up and kind of learning how to play in this league," Bradford said. "I learned a lot from a playing standpoint, things he saw in my game. With defenses, he helped me learn coverages. "I learned most how to be a leader. I watched the way he handled himself in different situations in the locker room, on the field, in practice, during games," continued Bradford. "I learned a ton from Jack. I really couldn't imagine having to start my career here without him." In discussing his love of buildings and structures, Jackson admits he watches more HGTV than sports programming. The well-rounded pro has traveled through Europe and cites The Louvre and Cathedral de Notre Dame as his favorite examples of French architecture. He waxed poetic in explaining his affection for the art form: "Whatever you design on paper, someone is probably going to grow up in that house and become fond of it, so the memories and the attachment." Perhaps that was case with the Rams and the Edward Jones Dome. But now Jackson has moved on. "It's not often at 30 that you get to restart and re-introduce yourself to a crowd or a certain region," he said of life in the NFL. "That's exciting for me that I get to put my resume out there and do it again."
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