By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

Fred Jackson – Signed by the Bills in 2007

Everyone in Western New York loves Fred Jackson to this day. They love him because of his personality, they love him for his effort on the football field, and they love him for his Cinderella story.

Jackson played football at Coe College in Iowa, a place only known to Bills’ fans because Marv Levy went to school there. He graduated in 2003, but couldn’t find a landing spot as a pro that fall. The next year it was on to indoor football with the Sioux City Bandits for $200 a week. In 2006 it was on to NFL Europa, where he led the Rhein Fire in rushing. Jackson was signed by the Bills and brought to training camp for a look, and joined the practice squad in 2006. He still seemed like he’d be a footnote in team history.

But he found a spot on the roster as a backup to Marshawn Lynch at running back in 2007 and 2008. Then Jackson became the feature back for Buffalo in 2009 – and ran for 1,062 yards and caught 46 passes. He became the first NFL player to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 kickoff return yards in the same season. He was an instant sensation at the age of 28.

Jackson appeared to be on his way to the best season of his life in 2011, but broke his leg in game 11 and missed the rest of the season. The veteran came back and remained a valuable weapon for the Bills until he was released in 2015. Jackson hooked on with the Seahawks for a season, taking part in the playoffs for the first time, and eventually retired.

Let’s hear from him when he retired:

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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