Still reeling from high-profile criminal cases involving Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Aaron Hernandez, still cupping its collective face with the palm of its collective hand at the petty transgressions of Jameis Winston and Todd Gurley, the football world has lately been on the hunt for heroes. Or if nothing else, at least some bona fide good guys to hold up as the rule against the exceptions that always seem to get more attention from the media and the public.
Trezdun Jackson admirably and yet unwittingly stepped into that role this week.
The sophomore defensive back at Stetson University has become something of a symbol for the (true) concept that not all football players — not even a large percentage of football players — are troublemakers with a special talent for making bad decisions off the field. Here’s the story from Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi:
Then, just when you are about to lose faith in humanity, you come across this emotional email from a woman who is not accusing a football player of a violent crime; she’s actually thanking him for a good deed.
“… I have been blessed with the most generous act of kindness my soul has ever witnessed,” the woman wrote in her email to Stetson University’s athletic department. “I am a local DeLand resident who is very grateful for what I have, but honest to say, I don’t have much. While I was finishing up some shopping with my five children at Wal-Mart, I went to the checkout counter and was informed my food stamps were not valid and I did not have more than $20 to my name.
“I immediately burst into tears and begged the cashier for mercy when out of nowhere a young man wearing a Stetson football shirt handed $100 and left his groceries behind him. I (found out later) the young man’s name was Trezdun Jackson. I was so overwhelmed with this act that I didn’t really have a chance to properly thank him. Please relay this message to the young man and let him know that his help will never be forgotten, and we are more than extremely grateful for the money he gave us.”
I guess Trez Jackson, a sophomore defensive back at Stetson, didn’t get that memo a few weeks ago when he was standing in line at Wal-Mart. Either that or Stetson, an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision non-scholarship program that just started playing last year, forgot to tell its players they are supposed to be angry and mean-spirited; not thoughtful and big-hearted.
So who is Trez Jackson?
He’s a 5-foot-8, 158-pound DB from Midwest City, Okla., who turned down his only FBS scholarship offer (to North Texas) to walk-on at Stetson. He has yet to appear in a game this season for the Hatters, who are 2-4 going into Saturday’s home game against Jacksonville. He’s a high school honor roll student who spent two summers interning at a law firm, who currently plans on attending Stetson’s law school and eventually becoming a lawyer.
“The items in my cart were irrelevant,” Jackson told Bianchi about the Wal-Mart encounter. “She had kids she was trying to feed. You could tell she was having a rough time of it. I didn’t really think about it; it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
The truth is, Jackson doesn’t stick out from the crowd of thousands of college football players across the country. And I’m not talking about his ability on the field. Jackson’s good grades, his good character and his now-famous good deed are the identifiers of a young man who is more like the majority of football players — the ones who rarely get the attention they deserve because the media and the public are too busy talking about the guys doing the wrong thing.