Former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson will be the Legend of the Game Sunday when the Buffalo Bills host the New York Jets at Highmark Stadium.
A fan favorite and a Bill for life, Jackson is excited to return to Highmark Stadium and lead the crowd before kickoff.
"It's always exciting to go back and be out there in front of everybody," Jackson said. "The energy in that building is always fun to be a part of in some capacity. So to be able to go out there and be the Legend of the Game and try and get those guys rowdy and ready to go to start the game is always something that I look forward to."
Jackson, who played in Buffalo from 2007-14, is the third-highest leading rusher in Bills history with 5,646 yards. Jackson's best season came in 2009, when he had 1,062 rushing yards and 371 receiving yards.
A graduate of Coe College, Jackson went undrafted and spent time in the National Indoor Football League, United Indoor Football and NFL Europa before Bills general manager Marv Levy – who also went to Coe College – invited the running back to training camp.
When Jackson made his first career start in 2007, he became the first Division III running back to start a game since 2000. He is forever grateful for the support Bills Mafia gave him throughout his career in Buffalo.
"I wouldn't be the person or the player that I was without the support of everybody in Bills Mafia, in that whole city in the way that they embraced me when I play the game," Jackson said. "So, it's always great to give back and go back out, give back to the community, go visit schools, go visit hospitals and just continue to show support for the people that supported me."
Jackson received the Jefferson Award Foundation's award for Greatest Public Service by an athlete for his work with the Food Bank of Western New York, the United Way, the Billieve campaign for breast cancer awareness and many other WNY causes.
His efforts to reach out to the Buffalo community did not stop after his time on the field came to an end.
"Any time I get a phone call and an opportunity to go out and come back and support and show love in any capacity, I love to jump on those opportunities," Jackson said. "So this is just another time to do so and mingle with some of Bills Mafia, get out in front of everybody in the stadium and get the crowd going and just show them all the appreciation that I have for them."
As the Bills prepare to take on the Jets, Jackson said that when he was playing, he took a balanced approached towards facing divisional foes.
"You can't get out of character because it is a divisional game, but you know that they carry more weight. The best way and the quickest way to get to where you want to be in the postseason is to win your division," Jackson said. "So, you get amped up for them knowing they're coming into your place, gives you an opportunity to go back and avenge a loss earlier in the season for the guys playing this Sunday."
The 5-5 Buffalo Bills will host the 4-5 New York Jets Sunday at 4:25 p.m.