Seattle's Jackson Gets Homefield Advantage
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 20 September 2004

It took Seattle Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson more than three hours to finally glide into the end zone at Raymond James Stadium. Jackson went in untouched. He celebrated like he had never been there before, not worrying about a 15-yard penalty, because in reality, this was a first for Jackson.

The Seahawks had squeezed out a 10-6 victory against Tampa Bay and Jackson, a former Tampa Catholic and Florida receiver, was running to greet at least 50 supporters who were all wearing his No. 82 jersey in the north end zone. Jackson had to obtain tickets for more than 200 family and friends to attend his first game in Tampa since he was drafted in 2000. While in the end zone, Jackson took off his sweat bands, threw them to his supporters and shook more hands than a presidential candidate. ``It's great to be back home. It's something I dreamed about my whole life. Playing high school ball and college here, watching the old Buccaneers and Vinny Testaverde in the Ol' Sombrero [Tampa Stadium],'' Jackson said. ``I dreamed about this a whole lot, and it finally came through. Luckily I came down here and got a win. If I would have got an `L' it would have been more difficult.''

Jackson did not disappoint his fans, hauling in five receptions for 50 yards. In fact, Jackson was so focused on winning, he refrained from getting caught up in any homecoming celebrations and kept to himself while back in Tampa. ``I didn't do anything. I have a great routine that I follow and there was no reason to break it now just because I was at home,'' Jackson said. ``It means a lot more to get the win than to come home and have fun.''

Jackson, who resides in Tampa, had plenty of fun during his prep career. He set a national record with 4,594 yards receiving at Tampa Catholic and was a second-team All-USA Today selection after his 1996 senior season. His high school quarterback was Kenny Kelly, who played for the University of Miami before turning his attention to becoming a professional baseball player. Kelly is on the Cincinnati Reds' Triple- A team.

In addition, Jackson was a standout basketball player who teamed with Otis Kitchen in 1995 to lead the Crusaders to the Class 3A state championship. He scored 1,468 points from 1994-97 and is 41st in Hillsborough County boys basketball scoring history. After becoming a standout receiver at Florida, Jackson was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round (80th overall). Jackson ranked second in the NFL with an average of 16.7 yards per catch last season, and his average on third downs was 19.4 yards. It was enough for the Seahawks to sign Jackson, who was a free agent over the summer, to a six-year, $25 million contract that included an $8 million bonus. ``Anytime you come out with a victory in the Bucs' stadium, you have to be happy with that,'' Jackson said. ``Last season, we didn't win a lot on the road and now we're 2-0. We'll take that.''