PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Fred Jackson has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
The 33-year-old running back signed a one-year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, placing Buffalo’s unquestioned leader on offense under contract with the Bills through 2015.
“I just love to play this game,” Jackson said. “Usually when guys get to be my age they’re ready to kind of shut it down and not come out here and get beat up like we do at training camp, but I wake up every day and I love it. I’m blessed to have an opportunity to play for a team like the Buffalo Bills.”
Jackson’s unlikely success story has made him one of the most popular Bills of the last decade. A former undrafted free agent from tiny Coe College, Jackson is known as much for his slashing, punishing running style on the field as well as his character and leadership away from it.
Jackson earned a spot on the Bills’ practice squad in 2006 after years of toiling away in various minor leagues. He became a full-time starter in 2009, topping the 1,000-yard mark with 1,062 yards rushing, and has been an integral part of the team’s offense ever since while sharing time in the backfield with players like C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch.
Jackson doesn’t appear to be slowing down with age. Following an injury-plagued 2012 campaign, Jackson rushed for 890 yards and nine touchdowns last season while battling two separate knee sprains. In 2011, he had one of the most productive years of his career, averaging 5.5 yards a carry and nearly topping the 1,000-yard mark in just 10 games.
Jackson has rushed for 5,121 yards and 28 career touchdowns while adding 2,139 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver.
“Fred’s been a great pro,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. “In my time here with him he’s been a very good leader and very productive. ... Age is a number for him. He really doesn’t seem that way. The way he runs and the way he prepares himself is a credit to how he takes care of his body.”
Jackson hopes that this new deal will give him an opportunity to finish his career with the Bills, whenever that is.
“I want to play as long as possible, but if I can get three or four more years I’ll be happy,” Jackson said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Jackson’s 7-year-old son, Braeden, then spoke up while standing next to his father at the podium:
“Can I tell you how many years I’d like you to play? Five.”
“Five more years, that’s where I’ve got to go,” Jackson answered to laughter. “By that time, I’ll have (one of my other kids) telling me to do something different.”