Steven Jackson is one of the toughest running backs in the NFL, and he's been so since the St. Louis Rams selected him in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft. Through several down years for the Rams franchise, he's often been the only elite offensive player opposing defenses have to worry about, which makes his current status as the Rams' all-time leading rusher all the more impressive.
Now that there's a new upswing for the team with head coach Jeff Fisher, the on-field news is better for Jackson, but the veteran is just as concerned with what he's doing off the field -- and the legacy he leaves over time.
Jackson's passions for art, architecture, and world travel keep him very busy when he's not playing the game, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't cherish every carry. In his ninth NFL season, the three-time Pro Bowler knows that every opportunity means more as the clock keeps ticking.
"Each and every day, I focus on my job, but I also take in living in the moment," Jackson recently told Yahoo! Sports. "I won't always be here."
Where will he be? All over the world, apparently, Jackson has traveled to 21 different countries, which has led him to confront an unexpected fear.
"I was putting off a lot of my trips, because I was afraid of traveling alone," he said. "I was terrified. For some reason, I thought I would have a language barrier, or I wouldn't be able to communicate and get around. But I used the World Cup as one of my first experiences traveling abroad alone. Once I learned how easy it was, and how many people you get to meet and socialize with, I actually prefer to travel alone now."
That trip, which took Jackson around the 2010 World Cup, triggered a new passion in photography.
"I didn't have a functional camera that would let me catch what I saw, so I invested in one. Didn't take any classes -- I just walked right into it."
Jackson became interested in architecture when he took a drafting class in high school, and his continued fascination with that vocation has him thinking about his life and legacy off the field and after the cheering has stopped. He's also thought about opening an architecture firm once his NFL career is a thing of the past.
"What will people say about me once I leave this Earth? I mean, architecture's one of those examples where, centuries later, we go back and visit.
"I've been blessed with a talent, and it's let me live life to the fullest and influence others while I do so. But I really view myself as someone who can motivate others, and inspire those who are going through challenging times."
On the field or off, there's no question that Steven Jackson will continue to inspire.
"I don't think football defines me; I'm just fortunate enough to play the game at a high level," he concluded. "I'm just trying to better myself each and every day."
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