Jackson at the 2010 NFL Draft
|Date of birth:||April 4, 1951|
|Place of birth:||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||220 lb (100 kg)|
|High school:||Cleveland (OH) Adams|
|NFL Draft:||1973 / Round: 4 / Pick: 88|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Thomas Louie Jackson, also referred to as "TJ" or "Tommy", (born April 4, 1951) is a former NFL linebacker for the Denver Broncos, where he was part of the "Orange Crush Defense". Jackson was a major component in the defense which led the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI against the New York Giants. After his playing career ended, he enjoyed a successful 29-year run as an NFL analyst for ESPN. He was given the Pete Rozelle Award for excellence in broadcasting by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jackson attended John Adams High School (Cleveland, Ohio), where he played football as a star defensive back, baseball, and also was a wrestler. He was a fan of the Cleveland Browns and he and his father attended many games. Jackson credited his wrestling coach with developing his mental toughness and character. "He was a 140-pound guy named John Bianchi, the toughest little Italian man I ever knew. He drove us unbelievably and probably drove me more than he drove the rest of my teammates. I look back very fondly on his help building of my character." Jackson's mother died when he was a teenager.
Jackson dreamed of attending Ohio State, but the Buckeyes had little interest in the undersized Jackson. He was recruited by University of Louisville head coach, however, and current college football analyst Lee Corso. He attended Louisville and played football for three seasons from 1970 to 1972.
During his college career, he was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year selection in 1970 and 1972. Playing linebacker, he led the Cardinals in tackles all three years and led the team to an overall record of 23-7-2.
His number 50 was retired by the Cardinals in 1999.
Jackson was selected by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 1973 NFL Draft. He enjoyed a 14-year career in Denver where he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, a four-time All-Pro selection, and was voted Denver's Most Inspirational Player six times by his teammates. He also assisted the team to championship appearances in Super Bowl XII and Super Bowl XXI.
Jackson was one of only four players to play for the Broncos in both of the aforementioned Super Bowls, played nine years apart. Jackson finished his career with 20 interceptions, which he returned for 340 yards and three touchdowns, and eight fumble recoveries, which he returned for 104 yards. He also recorded 13 sacks (with a season high 5-1/2) as a weak-side blitzer in Denver's 3-4 defense according to Broncos records. Jackson ranks third only to Jason Elam and John Elway on the team's all-time list of games played with 191. He retired tied for the franchise lead for interceptions by a linebacker with 20.
Jackson became the 14th person inducted in the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1992.
Jackson joined ESPN studios in 1987 where he was teamed with Chris Berman on the network's signature NFL shows, NFL Countdown and NFL Primetime. Sunday NFL Countdown, the weekly Sunday morning pre-game show and has won seven Sports Emmy awards for Outstanding Studio Show—Weekly (1988, 1991, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2007 seasons). On Monday Night Countdown, Jackson hosted the segment "Jacked Up!," which featured five hits from the previous day's games. The show's hosts recited the title phrase as they watched some of the most punishing hits inflicted by players on the field.
Jackson's pre-ESPN broadcasting experience included co-host positions for both "Broncos Beat," a weekly show on KCNC-TV in Denver, Colorado and a post-game show on KUSA-TV. He had also hosted a daily syndicated sports commentary radio show, "Behind the Line."
During his career as a broadcaster, he was known for his outspoken commentary on social issues in addition to his football knowledge.
Tom Jackson retired from ESPN after the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on August 6, 2016.
Jackson resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife, Jennifer, a former flight attendant whom he met in Hawaii at the 1990 Pro Bowl. They have two daughters, Taylor and Morgan. He also had a daughter, Andrea Jackson, who died on August 7, 1997, at the age of nine in a car accident.