Vincent Jackson was one of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest off-season acquisitions when he signed with the team in 2012. His first year with the Bucs was a memorable one: 72 receptions, 1,384 receiving yards and 8 TDs. His 2013 campaign has been steady despite the team’s struggles. At Rain Publishing Group, the company that produces South Tampa Magazine and other Bay-area publications such as blu, we’re supporters of the Tampa sports teams. Check out this interview we did with Vincent Jackson in blu prior to the start of his 2012 season:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson On His New Life In The Other Bay Area
At just 29, Vincent Jackson comes to Tampa Bay with high expectations, as do the ownership and fans. The team hasn’t signed a big name free agent wide receiver like this since Keyshawn Johnson came over from the New York Jets 12 years ago.
A two-time Pro Bowl receiver, Jackson is coming off three amazing seasons in four years where he ranked third in receiving yard per catch, tied for sixth in receiving touchdowns and 14th in receiving yard among active NFL wide receivers. As John Freeman’s new offensive target, he brings a much-needed deep threat for an offense that often sputtered at times last season.
Jackson comes to the Bay area with just one career game played at Raymond James Stadium, but he isn’t a rookie when it comes to relocating to new cities. A self-described military brat, he followed his parents as they moved around the world for their profession. He grew up in Colorado and has spent his entire professional career in San Diego but he says he’s excited about this new opportunity to blossom in Tampa Bay.
With his coast-to-coast journey still in the first chapter, blu caught up with Jackson at Hula Bay in South Tampa just a few games deep into the season to talk about his new life as a Buc and Tampa residence.
blu: As the top wide receiver available on the market during the off-season, you pretty much had your choice of where you wanted to play. What was enticing about Tampa?
Vincent: I wanted to go somewhere I could compete and be with a competitive team and win games. That’s obviously every player’s goal when they go to a team. Speaking with Greg Schiano right off the bat, I was excited about what he was bringing to the table and his ideas. I just felt like it was a good fit for me. I also knew he was bringing in an offensive coordinator who had a offense that I would fit in and having a great quarterback like Josh Freemen. It was just a place that I could be successful and obviously a good place for my family as well. Being in San Diego for seven years and dealing with the weather that they had out there, this is about the closest thing you can get to it.
blu: How does Tampa’s weather stack up to San Diego?
Vincent: It’s not as humid but as far as sunny days, this is about as close as you can get.
blu: You only played at Raymond James Stadium once in your career. What did you know about the area before you moved here?
Vincent: Well I knew there was a big military base down here. Being a military brat myself, I kind of grew up around that. I just knew it was a nice town that wasn’t too big but it was kind of right there in the middle. There’s a great fan base. You’ve got the Rays, the Lightning and obviously the Bucs. Being in a sports town and being near the water is about everything you could ask for.
blu: How has the transition been for you and your wife?
Vincent: I came out in late March right when I signed and was out here doing the off-season workout programs by myself. I was staying at the Homewood Suites over by the airport kind of living the bachelor life. She [Lindsey] was still teaching back in San Diego and I would go back every two weeks or so to see her. But I just kind of explored myself. I had a rental car and would just drive around town when I had the time. We workout about four-five times a week and were done by 2 o’clock so I had a lot of time on my hands to just go and explore by myself. Being that I was moving my family out here I had to spend a lot of time house hunting and that was fun. That’s how you learn a city quick, by just going through all these little different neighborhoods. I looked as far as St. Pete, Clearwater and up north in Odessa. Driving around with our Real Estate agent, I got to learn the city really fast.
blu: I’m sure you’re all settled in by now.
Vincent: We are pretty settled in. She moved down here with the dogs in late June and we had the house by then. It has just been great for us. We love where we live and our neighbors are great. South Tampa is just great. We explored other cities but we love where we are. There’s a lot of mom and pops and local restaurants. We’re just a half a mile from Bayshore and everyone has just been so welcoming. They actually put together a little party for us to welcome us to the neighborhood. There were like 10 or 15 different families and households and we just had some hors d’oeuvres and talked about places to eat and things to do.
blu: When you signed your contract (6 years, $55.55 million) you sent a nice message to Josh Freeman. How much interaction did you have with him before coming to the Bucs?
Vincent: It was partially put together by the Bucs because they thought it was a nice way to honor this new relationship. But as soon as I signed, the actual day I was here, I met Josh in the cafeteria and we just hit it off. We became friends right then and I knew I’d be coming to training camp in two weeks. He’s just been very open and we’ve hung out quite a bit off the field as well. Just kind of getting that friendship right off the bat was just really easy for us. He’s a great kind, he’s hungry and he’s humble.
blu: What are your thoughts on being named a captain your first year?
Vincent: I was just honored, honestly. To come in and not be known that well, the guys had known me for just four-five months. I’m not really a vocal guy; I just kind of come out there and try and do my job everyday. But it was definitely and honor for these guys to see me like that.
blu: This is clearly a different team from last season. What’s the emotion in the locker room right now?
Vincent: The emotion is just that we have the confidence and the ability. We have all the tools and a great coaching staff and we’re just finding all these ways to improve. We approach every day as a one game season. We’ve been in a lot of close ones and sometimes we try not to beat ourselves but we’re learning. It’s a tough league and a tough schedule; there are no games that are guaranteed wins so right now it’s about sticking to what we’re doing. We believe in Coach Schiano’s mentality and his game plan and we believe we’re going to win quite a few games this year.
blu: What’s it like playing for Coach Schiano after coming from a veteran like Coach Norv Turner?
Vincent: It’s exciting because it’s new for all of us. With me being a new face here and the new coaching staff it’s like a fresh start and a clean slate for all of us. We’re all learning together and learning this new environment as well. It’s been fun; the energy we have and the excitement that he brings as well. He’s just the most energetic guy I’ve ever met. He’s fun to work with; he challenges me. It’s just a fresh breath of air being here. You get in a routine but to come out here and kind of have a new mentality and approach to the game is nice. We maximize every moment of our day to get better.
blu: Have you brought any of that California flavor to the locker room?
Vincent: Of course. I’m the team DJ. That was the first thing I had to establish is that I’m bringing my boom box in and I’m hooking my iPod up. The locker room is great, we have some great guys and that’s what Coach always preaches about, that we have a team of great people. For them to see me as that type of guy and to see me as a professional that can let them know that this is how you want to be on and off the field is great.
blu: Tell me about your new foundation, Jackson in Action.
Vincent: Right now we’re been focusing on military families who have children and spouses who are deployed overseas and just giving these families the resources and tools so they can keep in touch. They have Skype and things like that but we just want to continue to take it to the next level and give each side conversation topics like workout for the kids and other fitness techniques. Obviously being a military kid, education and fitness were one of the biggest things that I want people to embrace. I graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and nowadays that stuff can take a back seat. We’re starting small now and we’re going to get with some local schools and help them with the things they pay out of pocket like school supplies and make sure they get their recognition as well. We believe that it’s something that can be recreated. MacDill is the only military base in the community but there are so many other bases across the country.
blu: What do you and Lindsey like to do on your off time?
Vincent: Honestly we’ve been spending a lot of time renovating our home. We purchased a 1929 house that was in good shape, the previous owners did a good job with it but we’ve wanted to make it our own. It didn’t have an outdoor party area for entertaining or a pool so we’ve been working on doing that. We started in mid July and we’ll probably be done around New Year’s. We’ve been watching a lot of HGTV and all those shows to get some ideas?
blu: Any restaurants you’ve discovered that you really enjoy?
Vincent: Pane Rustica is right down the street and they have some really good food. We’ve had some lunches at Wright’s. Datz is literally right in my backyard and they’ve got great sandwiches.
blu: What’s the best thing you can cook?
Vincent: I make a pretty good manicotti. I love to grill. We just got a Green Egg, if was a gift from our Realtors Georgia and Kirby from North Star Realty, and I love that thing.
blu: What’s an ideal date night for you?
Vincent: Probably a nice dinner and then head over to Cinebistro. We really enjoy that. It’s pretty cool. Most of our date nights are at home with a movie.
Lindsey: Our last date night he got really romantic and brought home the movie Ted. (laughs)
blu: Where do you like to take the dogs?
Vincent: We have a nice park right in our neighborhood. We’ve been over to the Davis Islands dog park.
Lindsey: On Monday Palma Ceia Golf Course is closed so we like to walk them around the course and let them run loose.
blu: Here are some rapid-fire questions for you. Sushi or steak?
blu: Burritos or burgers?
blu: Coke or Pepsi?
blu: Coffee or Red Bull?
blu: Deep dish or hand-tossed pizza?
blu: I’ll set this one up and you knock it down. Blondes, brunettes or redheads?
Vincent: (laughs) Natural brunettes
Lindsey: That’s hard because I was a blonde until about two months ago.
blu: Drake or Kanye?
blu: Guilty food pleasure?
Vincent: Chocolate chip cookies or brownies
blu: Favorite TV show?
Vincent: Diner’s, Drive-in’s and Dives
blu: Favorite sport, other than football?
blu: Any hidden talents?
Vincent: I can skateboard a little bit. I’m not allowed to ride them anymore but I used to have a motorcycle.
Lindsey: I’ve got one: he can clean like no other.
blu: Favorite nickname?
Vincent: VJ, VJack
blu: Dream man-date?
Lindsey: Easy, it’s gotta be Lil’ Wayne.
(long pause) Vincent: Will Ferrell would be cool