There were other Bills players that did an awful lot on the field for the team in 2009, but no one came close to the contributions of Fred Jackson. From his exploits on offense in both the run and passing game to his kick return duties on special teams there wasn't much that Jackson wasn't asked to do. There also weren't many times that Jackson failed to deliver, which is why the Bills back is the team's runaway 2009 MVP.
Jackson knew right from the start of the season that he would have more of an opportunity to show what he was truly capable of as the team's feature back for the first three games with Marshawn Lynch serving a league-imposed three game suspension. And the Coe College product took advantage of it putting up 337 all-purpose yards in the first two games, highlighted by his 163-yard rushing day in Week 2 against Tampa Bay. It marked the fourth best two-game yardage total to start a season in team history.
By the time the 2009 campaign was over Jackson became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and have 1,000 kick return yards in the same season. Jackson was 150 yards shy of the 1,000-yard rushing total entering the season finale, but had a 212-yard rushing performance against the Colts to help him surpass the 1,000-yard total.
"It's definitely something I'll be able to tell my grandkids," said Jackson of the double 1,000 mark. "It's something I'm excited about especially coming from where I came from to be the first guy to do it. It's a big deal and it's something I'm definitely proud of."
Jackson's all-purpose yardage total of 2,516 yards also led the league as he became just the sixth player in NFL history to accumulate 2,500 yards or more all-purpose yards in a season. His total of 2,516 is the fourth best all-time.
"He wasthe workhorse," said Lee Evans. "We relied on him to do a number of different things. We put the ball in his hands a number of times and he reallywas the workhorse of our offense andwas busy in the return game on special teams. He wasbig, but that's the type of player he is."
Jackson led the team in rushing, return yards, was second in receptions, third in receiving yards, third in touchdowns and even threw a 27-yard touchdown pass.
"Fred all year, he hasn't gotten a lot of national attention and all that, but the effort that he plays with, he is such a good football player and I don't think there are a ton of people around the league that give him the respect that he deserves," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "He was amazing for us this year."
As proud as Jackson was to make a major contribution to the team's output, he knows a lot of it would not have been achieved without his linemen and return unit blocking for him.
"You want to be able to make plays," he said. "Obviously, we all want to go out and compete and do great things, but it's a team sport and without those guys I wouldn't be able to do it."
For Jackson it was a breakout year in every sense of the word. The long road he took from Division III college standout, to the Indoor Football League to NFL Europe and a year on Buffalo's practice squad, Jackson savors the journey all the more after producing in a way he always felt he could.
"It was the type of season that can help build a career," said Jackson. "So I want to do that and hopefully come back and build on top of what I was able to do this year and do more things."
Fans can only wonder what more Jackson could possibly do.